Monday, May 26, 2014

Colombia: Update--Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, Backed by Former President Uribe, Wins Runoff at 29.26%, Santos Garnishes 25.66%

Zuluaga won 29.26% of Sunday's presidential election, while Santos came in second with 25.66%.  

President Juan Manuel Santos and challenger Oscar Ivan Zuluaga are headed to a runoff on June 15 to determine who will be Colombia’s next president.

“What came out clearly today is that Colombians will have two options in three weeks: they can choose between those of us who want an end to the war and those who prefer a war without end, and we are going to win with peace,” Santos told supporters after the results were released on Sunday night.

Zuluaga, who is backed by former President Alvaro Uribe, told his supporters he would work for peace with justice.

“I am going to work every day so that Colombia can achieve peace, but a peace that benefits only the Colombian people,” Zuluaga told supporters at a convention center in Bogotá.

Zuluaga has been a harsh critic of the Santos Administration’s peace negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group.

COMMENT: Zuluaga said he would not allow FARC members to go unpunished for the crimes they have committed.

Zuluaga got the biggest applause when he mentioned Uribe, his political godfather, vowing to take up the former president’s “standard” and give the country hope.

Santos, for his part, is pinning his hopes for a win in the runoff on support from the losing candidates.

Conservative Marta Lucía Ramirez, leftist Clara López and Green Alliance candidate Enrique Peñalosa all failed to win enough votes to qualify for the runoff.

The president vowed that he would work to fight corruption, reduce poverty and protect the environment, the key issues in the losing candidates’ campaigns.

Ramirez, of the Conservative party, finished in third place with 15.53% of the vote; López, of the leftist Alternative Democratic Pole party, got 15.23% of the ballots cast; and Peñalosa, of the Green Alliance, received 8.29% of the vote, with nearly 100% of the ballots counted.

The voter abstention rate was 60% in Sunday’s election.