Conservative candidate Ivan Duque won the first round of Colombia’s presidential election, but fell short of the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff next month.
The 41-year-old senator will face former guerrilla Gustavo Petro on June 17, the first leftist candidate to contest a runoff in Colombia.
Duque won 39.2 percent of the votes, compared to Petro’s 25 percent, in the Sunday poll, which showed deep divisions over a peace deal with the former rebel movement Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
It was the first presidential election in half a century free of the threat of the FARC, but Duque has campaigned strongly on a pledge to rewrite a peace agreement with the group.
Polling was “totally normal,” electoral authority chairman Juan Carlos Galindo said.
Turnout was a higher-than-usual 53.2 percent in a country traditionally plagued by voter apathy.
The peaceful election was an achievement praised by outgoing Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos after casting his ballot in Bogota.
Ironically, the peace that Santos made with the FARC has opened sharp divisions, reflected in the two candidates to succeed him.
Duque has vowed to rewrite an accord that he sees as too lenient on a group that waged a decades-long war of terror in Colombia before transforming itself into a political party.
Duque’s pledges to defend private enterprise and introduce tax cuts also won him support.
Duque called for a “Colombia where peace coincides with justice” after the results were announced, reiterating his desire to revise — without “shredding” — the pact with the FARC.
Petro, a former member of the disbanded M-19 rebel group, defied expectations in a country where presidential elections have traditionally been the domain of the right.
His total of more than 4.8 million votes is almost double the previous best showing for the left in a presidential election, in 2006.
“It’s obviously going to be very polarized in the second round,” with both sides scrambling to form alliances with defeated candidates, analyst Andres Macais said.
Conservatives backing Duque have a majority in the Colombian Congress after sweeping legislative elections in March.
Leftist candidates Sergio Fajardo, a former Medellin mayor who polled 23.7 percent of the vote, and peace negotiator Humberto De la Calle, have previously refused to ally with Petro.
Petro expressed confidence after his second-place finish. “You can be certain that we will win, that the history of Colombia can be changed,” he told supporters.
The 58-year-old rallied many Colombians with his campaign speeches against inequality and corruption.
“I voted for Petro ... who has helped the poor people,” 60-year-old domestic worker Gladys Cortes said.
Analysts said turnout could be a key factor in the second round.
“There is an increase in participation, but abstention is still high, we will have to see if it is still possible to move that absentee vote toward Petro. The second round is going to be very close,” analyst Medofilo Medina said.
“Society has overcome the fear of violence and terror, and what we are seeing today is the political expression of that, filling public places and drawing crowds,” Petro told reporters in the final days of his campaign.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”