Panama Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to Candidacy of Presidential Frontrunner Days Before Vote

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In Panama, there’s been a big decision just days before the presidential election. The Supreme Court said no to a challenge against José Raúl Mulino’s candidacy. He’s a top contender for president. This clears up some doubts before the May 5 vote.

A lawyer named Karisma Etienne Karamañites challenged Mulino’s candidacy. She said he wasn’t eligible because he didn’t win a primary in the Achieving Goals party. This party is linked to former president Ricardo Martinelli.

The Electoral Tribunal in Panama said Martinelli couldn’t run in March. He got into legal trouble and got a more than 10-year prison sentence for money laundering. Panama’s rules say if you get more than five years for a crime, you can’t run for office.

When Martinelli was out, Mulino, who’s a maritime lawyer and former security minister, took the lead. He doesn’t have Martinelli’s charm or popularity, but he became the frontrunner.

Martinelli has been supporting Mulino from inside the Nicaraguan embassy in Panama. He got political asylum there in February.

Now, with Mulino still in the race, there are seven candidates for Sunday’s election. Another candidate, Melitón Arrocha, said he’ll stop campaigning. He’ll support ex-President Martín Torrijos instead.

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