Colombian candidates from right and left head to presidential run-off

First election since Farc deal marked by polarised stances of presidential hopefuls

  Colombian presidential candidates Gustavo Petro  and    Ivan Duque. Photographs: Raul Arboleda and Luis Acosta /AFP/Getty Images

Colombian presidential candidates Gustavo Petro and Ivan Duque. Photographs: Raul Arboleda and Luis Acosta /AFP/Getty Images

 

Right-wing candidate Ivan Duque, who wants to overhaul a peace deal with Colombia’s Marxist rebels, won Sunday’s first-round presidential election, setting up a run-off next month with leftist Gustavo Petro, who has pledged to take on entrenched elites.

The first election since the peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc)was signed in 2016 now heads for a run-off on June 17th to select the successor to President Juan Manuel Santos, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for ending the conflict that raged for five decades.

Mr Duque has pledged to alter the terms of the peace deal and jail former rebels for war crimes, while Mr Petro has provoked alarm with pledges to overhaul Colombia’s orthodox economic policy and redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor.

With almost 98 per cent of polling stations reporting, Mr Duque led with 39 per cent of the vote, as expected, while Mr Petro was a distant second with 25 per cent.

Centre-left mathematician Sergio Fajardo came a close third, with 23.8 per cent, making him a potential kingmaker for the second-round vote.

Campaigning in the traditionally conservative nation has been marked by acrimonious accusations that rival candidates will collapse the economy with socialist policies, force the nation back to the battlefield or bust the budget by overspending.

The election coincides with a migration crisis from neighbouring socialist-run Venezuela. Colombia is appealing for international support to cope with hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans streaming across the border to flee shortages of food and rising crime as their nation’s economy implodes.

– (Reuters)