Colombians Vote in Second Round of Presidential Election
(CNN) — Colombians on Sunday cast their ballots in the second round of the presidential election, choosing between conservative candidate Ivan Duque and leftist Gustavo Petro.
Polls opened at 9 a.m. ET and will close at 5 p.m. ET. Results should be known within a few hours of closing.
Voters cast ballots May 27 in Colombia’s presidential election, but no candidate won 50% of the vote. At the time, initial results showed Duque led with 39% of votes. In second place was Petro with 25%, closely trailed by centrist Sergio Fajardo.
The election is seen by some observers as a referendum on the country’s peace deal with FARC rebels.
Six candidates were vying to fill the seat left by departing President Juan Manuel Santos, who was awarded the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the long-running civil war between his government and guerillas from FARC, or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
Under the deal, the rebels agreed to lay down their arms, exit the jungle and pursue their aims via politics rather than guerrilla warfare.
The frontrunners in the election to replace Santos couldn’t differ more on the peace deal. Left-wing Petro supports the deal and blames former President Alvaro Uribe for the turmoil wrought by FARC, while conservative Duque has taken tough stances against FARC and openly opposes the deal.
Other important issues include unemployment, healthcare and corruption.
Duque, 41, of Uribe’s Democratic Center Party, served as a senator for four years and as an adviser to the Finance Ministry and the Inter-American Development Bank. He also is a professor and writer who co-authored the book, “The Orange Economy.”
“We have done a campaign of solutions and not aggression, positive energy and joy,” Duque said. “Everything humanly possible that you can do in a campaign to win. We ask the Colombian people to give us the victory.”
Petro, 58, is a former guerilla and an economist who founded the Progressive Movement ahead of his run for mayor of Bogotá, a seat he won in 2011. Formerly a member of M-19, another guerilla group that became a political party, Petro has served three terms as a congressman and one as a senator.
Former President Uribe said he voted for Duque “because they are a guarantee of growth and social inclusion … that Colombia may not fall in the destructive socialism. I have voted with my soul wishing that the sun will shine on a new born democracy of our sister Venezuela.”
Though there have been isolated incidents of violence related to the election, they have been minimal, likely owing to the dismantling of FARC and the Defense Ministry deploying 240,000 troops to ensure safety during the election process.
More than 36 million Colombians are eligible to vote in the election.