Colombia: Anti-graft referendum fails to meet quorum

By Sergio Garcia

BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) – The initiative against corruption in Colombia did not reach the required threshold of just over 12 million needed to be valid, according to the National Registry of Colombia.

The registry, after 99.8 percent of the votes were counted, said just under 12 million people had participated in the referendum on Sunday.

One of the promoters of the referendum, former senator Claudia Lopez, criticized the registry for reporting the partial votes of the initiative before it was officially closed.

"Honest Colombians have sent a clear message to Congress. We need to reform and we need to sanction corruption properly,” Lopez said in a statement after hearing the results.

Colombian President Ivan Duque voted in favor of the referendum, despite the fact that Alvaro Uribe, leader of his political party Centro Democrático, had opposed the initiative, saying it was incomplete and that he preferred for reforms to be made in parliament.

"We come to fulfill democracy. We have voted to express our rejection of corruption. In the fight against corruption we have to be united as Colombians. This is not a political or an ideological cause,” Duque said in a statement after voting.

The referendum asked Colombians if they agreed to lower the salary to lawmakers and high government officials; give out jail sentences to people involved in acts of corruption and forbid them to carry out contracts with the state; have a more transparent process regarding government contracts, and to hold public hearings so that citizens can participate in the prioritization of the nation's investment budget.

The initiative also sought to force lawmakers to submit annual reports on their governance achievements and for people elected by popular vote to declare their assets. The referendum also sought to establish a limit of maximum three terms for elected officials in all three branches of government.

*Ahmed Fawzi Mostefai contributed to this report​