Right-wing parties opposed to FARC peace deal lead Colombia vote

Lester Mason
March 14, 2018

But the major winners of the election, a coalition of right-wing forces centered around former president Alvaro Uribe's Centro Democratico party, have led opposition to the peace deal, and what they see as indulgent treatment of organizations involved in atrocious crimes.

"It's the first time in my life that I've voted and I do it for peace", he said after completing his ballot at a Bogotá polling station.

Sunday's primaries - in which Duque won nearly 42 percent more votes than Petro did - were considered a better test of voter support than often inaccurate opinion polls, although some voters will have participated strategically and may not back either victor in the presidential vote.

The former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are now the Revolutionary Alternative Common Force, a leftist political party that has candidates running for congressional seats.

Full results were expected Monday but it was clear by Sunday night who voters had chosen from the right-wing and leftist coalitions as candidates to contest the presidential election in May, following primaries held in parallel to the legislative vote.

"The extreme right-wing violence is not for a political solution to the conflict, it is not ready to change, even a little, so that the Colombian majorities have more dignity, as individuals and as a nation", the guerillas added.

The hardliners' victory raises questions about the future of the peace agreement signed with President Juan Manuel Santos in November 2016.

"The peace process friends called the two-month interruption of talks a 'prolonged recess, ' when it was actually just the abandoning of the talks by the government in order to appeal to the most extreme sectors of the Colombian right", the ELN said in its press release. The Green Alliance, one of the parties supporting Fajardo, doubled its vote tally from the last congressional elections, though it only came in sixth overall this year. It was 1.2 million votes less than Duque's total but still made him a top presidential contender. "The presidential campaign starts today".

Duque has said he would not "thrash" the peace accord with the FARC, but he would attempt to modify certain aspects, like a provision that allows the former rebels with drug-trafficking convictions to participate in politics.

"A true peace is built through the triumph of the rule of law not through the relativization of justice", he told his followers after election results came in.

According to some analysts, the legislative elections provide insight into the tendencies for upcoming presidential elections in Colombia.

Duque and Vargas Lleras, from the Radical Change party, have strong party machines behind them and can count on backing in Congress if they win. The pro peace deal vote is now split among Gustavo Petro, Sergio Fajardo and Humberto de la Calle.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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