Varela denies lobbying for Cigarruista  

The president said he did not interfere in the selection of the candidate to fill a vacancy on the Court of Auditors.


President Juan Carlos Varela today denied he lobbied the Supreme Court to designate Alberto Cigarruista as a judge of the Court of Auditors.

"The answer to whether I called any of the nine judges to ask them to support (Cigarruista) is no," Varela said.

Varela did say that Cigarruista, a former Supreme Court justice and member of Varela's Panameñista party, approached him after the election about being the head of the Ministry of Agriculture. However, Varela had already designated someone for that job.

The president said that he told the former judge that he should "serve the country in a manner that is close to his career" as a lawyer.

Varela said that subsequently Cigarruista presented his credentials to be considered for the opening on the Court of Auditors, which had an estimated 50 applicants.

Varela, who will appoint a member of the court in two years, said he did nothing to sway the outcome of the vote by the Supreme Court.

Recently, Cigarruista said that Varela had offered him the seat since there was no ministerial positions available.

"I spoke with the president. I told him that I aspired to be a minister, but he told me that they had been committed," the appointee said, adding that Varela then said he could possibly serve on the Court of Auditors.

Last Monday, five of the nine judges chose Cigarruista. The designation has been strongly criticized due to Cigarruista's political ties to the president.



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