World Bulletin / News Desk
Colombians will head to the polls Sunday to vote in the first presidential elections since a peace deal was signed with FARC guerrillas.
The two candidates vying for the presidency are the right-wing Ivan Duque of the Centro Democratico party and the leftist Gustavo Petro of Colombia Humana.
Leading the polls by some 20 percentage points is the conservatively aligned Duque, the protégé of former President Alvaro Uribe. But Petro, a one-time M19 guerrilla and former mayor of Bogota, has been mobilizing support in the three weeks between the first round of voting and the run-off Sunday.
“You are the hope of a new future! With us are the mothers, workers, entrepreneurs, the youth, farmers and free citizens. On the other side is the corruption, which we will defeat on June 17!” Petro told a crowd of followers Friday, closing his campaign in Bogota.
The radical differences between the politics of the two candidates have made these elections a polarizing factor in Colombia, and there is a great deal on the table from Aug. 7, when a new president is sworn in, and what may occur in the following four years.
Issues such as the instability in neighboring Venezuela and the refugee crisis now in Colombia, the increase in coca production, the peace agreement with the FARC guerrillas and the peace dialogues with the ELN guerrillas – currently taking place in Havana, Cuba -- are all up for debate for whoever wins Sunday.
Duque had promised to “shred” the peace accord with the FARC rebels, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, who signed a peace agreement with the government of outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos in 2016, bringing an end to more than 50 years of conflict. But he has since softened his tone.
“The changes which we have in mind for the peace accord have been made thinking of the victims, that there should be truth, justice and reparations,” Duque announced Friday on his Twitter account.
Duque received the most votes in the first round of the elections on May 27 and has already declared that the ELN, or National Liberation Army, will need to adhere to further conditions in order to continue talks with his government. Contrarily, Petro has said that his government will respect the current conditions for peace dialogues.
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