Panama’s electoral tribunal has ruled that former President Ricardo Martinelli, who is awaiting trial on wiretapping charges, cannot run in next month’s elections, but the politician vowed on Friday to retake the presidency in the following vote, ONA reports citing Reuters.
The tribunal has not formally commented on the decision, but a copy of the ruling seen by Reuters said it found Martinelli was not eligible because he did not meet residency requirements. A tribunal official confirmed the ruling was authentic.
Martinelli was extradited to Panama last June from the United States to face a variety of charges. He had been living in the United States since leaving Panama in 2015.
A 67-year-old supermarket tycoon who led the Central American country from 2009 to 2014, Martinelli was running for mayor of Panama City and a seat in Congress.
Wearing a baseball cap and jeans, he shouted “electoral fraud” to reporters as he entered a courthouse on Friday morning. Eduardo Camacho, a spokesman for Martinelli, called the tribunal’s ruling a “political decision.”