Anti-Peace Deal Candidate Wins Colombian Presidential Primary

ElectionsColombia closes borders and opens polling stations for legislative elections by Adriaan Alsema

March 12, 2018 The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, today welcomed the decision of the government of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to resume peace talks with the ELN guerilla in Quito, that had been suspended in January.

Petro's promise of a "social economy" that would raise taxes and shift away from oil, Colombia's top export, towards agriculture has anxious investors in the Andean nation as opinion polls showed the former member of the disbanded M-19 guerrilla group and ex-mayor of Bogota running ahead of Duque.

Petro was officially elected as the presidential candidate of the Decencia (Decent) coalition of progressive parties, which includes his own Human Colombia Movement, the Independent Social Alliance and the Indigenous and Social Alternative Movement (MAIS).

Former President and Senator Alvaro Uribe's Centro Democratico party won the most seats.

During the coalitions' primaries his left-wing coalition received more votes than the right-wing coalition in eight departments of the Colombian Caribbean, with 103 advantage points.

Santos has made no secret of his dream of "complete peace" in Colombia, having signed a peace deal in November 2016 with its biggest rebel group, the FARC. While no party came close to winning control of either legislature, the Democratic Center party came out on top in the Senate, with 19 seats and second in the lower house, with 32 seats.

The former guerrillas of the FARC, who handed in their weapons a year ago, got 0.3 percent of the vote.

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The Marxist group, now transformed into a political party called the Revolutionary Alternative Common Force, failed to take a single seat in congressional elections as it polled less than one per cent on a day where the big victor was a hard-right critic of the peace accords.

That, and the group's weak showing in the election may cause more of its members to join the dissidents who are still fighting the government, he said.

Catatumbo, along with nine of his former comrades, is guaranteed a non-voting seat in Colombia's congress as part of the controversial peace deal that initially failed to pass a referendum.

Other presidential candidates include Sergio Fajardo, German Vargas Lleras, Piedad Cordoba and Juan Carlos Pinzon.

Peace talks dominated elections in 2014.

Santos, who cast his vote near the presidential headquarters in Bogota just past 8 a.m., also celebrated the FARC's participation in the electoral process.