Colombia elects woman attorney general

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bogota, Dec 3 (IANS/EFE) Colombia’s Supreme Court has elected Viviane Morales as the country’s new attorney general, ending 16 months of uncertainty stemming from feuds between the previous government and the judiciary, the media said.

Colombia’s first woman attorney general was elected late Wednesday, with Morales receiving 14 of 18 votes from participating justices.

An attorney, constitutional law expert and former lawmaker who works at Caracol Radio, Morales beat out two other jurists, Juan Carlos Esguerra and Carlos Gustavo Arrieta.

All three had been named as candidates by President Juan Manuel Santos shortly after he was inaugurated Aug 7.

Morales said she was greatly honoured to be elected attorney general and noted the “great responsibility” that comes with the position, which had been occupied on an interim basis since August 2009 by Guillermo Mendoza.

In July 2009, then-President Alvaro Uribe submitted an initial list of candidates that included Camilo Ospina, Virginia Uribe and Juan Angel Palacio, but all three resigned after the high court refused to elect any of them after a period of several months.

Uribe later named three more candidates that were subsequently rejected by the high court.

The failure to fill that key post came amid a long-running spat between Uribe and the Supreme Court related in part to the latter’s investigation into collaboration between Uribe allies in Congress and murderous right-wing paramilitaries.

New York-based Human Rights Watch accused Uribe last year of repeatedly taking “steps to undermine the investigations and discredit the Supreme Court justices who have taken the lead in starting them”.


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