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Panama Vice President Rebukes President Over Actions

Sept. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Panama’s vice president rebuked the nation’s president, Ricardo Martinelli, for allegedly consolidating state resources for political gain, widening a rift between the leaders.

“We do not agree with the president’s attempt to concentrate political power in the hands of the executive,” Vice President Juan Carlos Varela said today at a conference in Washington.

Varela has called on Martinelli to suspend a $250 million contract to buy radar equipment and helicopters from Italy, pending an investigation into allegations that officials took bribes. Martinelli on May 9 called on Varela to resign.

President Barack Obama on Oct. 21 signed a free-trade agreement with Panama, which hasn’t been implemented, according to the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.

To contact the reporters on this story: Brian Wingfield in Washington at bwingfield3@bloomberg.net; Eric Sabo in Washington at esabo1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net

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