San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Elections tribunal warns Arias over playing favorites

The Supreme Elections Tribunal demanded yesterday that President Oscar Arias remain neutral as the 2010 presidential election approaches.


Arias appears to be backing Vice President and Justice Minister Laura Chinchilla. He told the weekly newspaper El Financiero that a woman should succeed him, and he told the daily La Nación that Chinchilla “is a woman whose calling is public service.”


The Electoral Code prohibits high-level public officials from using their influence to benefit a political party or candidate.


“They must show absolute impartiality,” the three tribunal magistrates said in a resolution. “They are allowed only to vote on election day.”


The magistrates said Arias had not violated the Electoral Code, rejecting a complaint by lawmakers Rafael Madrigal and Elizabeth Fonseca from the opposition Citizen Action Party (PAC).


But the magistrates did ask Arias to be careful.


“This Tribunal …(makes a) respectful but vehement call to attention to the president of the republic,” they wrote. “(We) demand that President Oscar Arias …promote, from the executive branch …neutrality and impartiality.”

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