Vice minister tries to duck latest flap

The Presidencia is clamming up on the latest scandal.

Daniel Soley Gutiérrez, vice minister of the Presidencia, issued a statement Thursday that said the Solís administration intended to intimidate or limit the powers of Ana Lorena Brenes, the procuraduría general de la República.

That is the same Daniel Soley who met with Ms. Brenes Tuesday. The Spanish-language press reported that he offered her an ambassadorship if she would resign from her office where she has about 18 months still to serve.

President Luis Guillermo Solís is said to be unhappy with her because she disagreed with him on key legal issues. She heads the agency that is basically the government’s lawyer.

Ms. Brenes is of the opinion that the Costa Rican Constitution prevents the naming of Melvin Jiménez as minister of the Presidencia. He is a Lutheran bishop and the Constitution forbids the appointment of clergy.  In a politically motivated decision, the Sala IV constitutional court sided with the president, but one magistrate said that Jiménez was barred from holding the job.

Ms. Brenes also did not agree that the president had the power to lift a veto that had been imposed years earlier by then-president Óscar Arias Sánchez. That involved the occupation of a street at the Plaza de la Democracia by the artisans market. That lifting of the veto is being appealed to the Sala IV by the municipality.

The meeting between Ms. Brenes and Soley has created an uproar and some lawmakers call any possible offer of an ambassadorship to be blackmail and bribery, although it probably is not.

In his statement Thursday Soley said that as a public official and as vice minister he always has respected the legality and adhered to the ethical principals. He also said that he was not going to make another statement on the matter.

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