Former presidential candidate Johnny Araya Monge has been officially banished from Costa Rica’s political scene for the near future.
Costa Rica’s Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE) on Wednesday upheld the earlier decision by Araya’s National Liberation Party (PLN) to ban Araya from any political activity for four years. The PLN’s ethics committee ordered Araya to stay out of politics last December, following his early withdrawal from the presidential race on March 5, 2014.
The elections tribunal ruled in favor of the PLN, saying the party followed the right procedures in ordering the sanction and did not violate Araya’s rights.
Araya had argued that the PLN’s decision violated his right to participate in political activities. He had also argued that his party lacks regulations on doling out punitive measures, and that there’s no provision in the party’s rules regarding dropping a presidential race.
The justices disagreed on all three counts.
“Such behavior represents a disrespect to a candidate’s duties as a member of a political party, and it also constitutes a sanctionable offense that affected his party’s ethics,” the TSE concluded.
Araya dropped his presidential campaign last year just a month before an April runoff against then-Citizen Action Party candidate, now President Luis Guillermo Solís. He made the announcement just hours after a University of Costa Rica poll showed that Solís held a 44 percent lead in the runoff race.
PLN’s ethics committee banned Araya on Dec. 9, 2014 from running for public office for four years. The committee said Araya’s decision to quit the presidential race was a clear ethics violation.
The sanction had been temporarily suspended pending TSE’s resolution, but it is now in effect following the dismissal of Araya’s appeal.
Araya had suggested he was interested in running for mayor of San José next year. But the ban puts a wrench in that plan. The politician was mayor of the capital for 22 years before resigning in order to pursue the presidential race.
The ban also means Araya can’t run again for president in 2018, as his sanction ends in 2019.
Following his withdrawal from last year’s presidential race, Araya has served as an adviser to the PLN’s 18 lawmakers — until now. The sanction also forbids his participation at the Legislative Assembly.