The Panamanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced Friday that it denied the request from the Nicaraguan government to provide safe passage for ex-president Ricardo Martinelli to leave the country after the Nicaraguan government granted asylum to the former Panamanian leader on Wednesday.
The ministry also made a statement that it has summoned the Nicaraguan Ambassador to Panama and that the cancellation of the request for safe-passage had been made “based on the provisions of Article 1 of the 1928 Asylum Convention and the 1933 Political Asylum Convention.” The ministry also urged Nicaragua to abstain from “exceeding its function” in a way that may impact Panamanian domestic policy, in light of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
Martinelli was given an 11-year prison term last year in a money laundering case, famously known as “New Business” which started in 2017. He is a candidate for the upcoming 2024 presidential elections. However Panama’s Constitution bars anyone with jail terms of 5 years or more from running in elections. There has been no official announcement regarding Martinelli’s potential disqualification by election authorities. Martinelli approached the Nicaraguan authorities for asylum protection after his appeal of his conviction was rejected by the Panama’s supreme court in the money laundering case.