Peace deal critics win big in Colombia's Congress

Erika Holt
March 15, 2018

It is significant that in upper house victor has been Democratic center, conservative training of former president Álvaro Uribe, very critical of peace agreement reached with guerrilla.

The party won less than 1 per cent of the vote in parliamentary elections but right-leaning blocs, which have voiced opposition to the peace agreement, increased their number of congressional seats.

"This is the first time in more than half a century that the FARC, instead of sabotaging the elections, are taking part in it", he said, adding that the ELN had "respected" their ceaseifer.

Right-wing parties opposed to a peace deal with the FARC won historic elections in Colombia Sunday but fell short of a majority in historic polls that see the former rebels enter the Congress.

Mr Uribe's party has fiercely opposed the peace deal and its members include some of the Farc's most vocal enemies.

Outside those guaranteed seats, the FARC were only able to secure 0.21 percent of the vote in the House of Representatives, despite fielding 74 candidates.

The hardliners' victory raises questions about the future of the peace agreement signed with President Juan Manuel Santos in November 2016. His Party of National Unity, which was the biggest political movement in the outgoing congress, finished fifth overall.

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Duque, a protégé of former president Alvaro Uribe, backs foreign investment and an aggressive security strategy meant to combat the country's remaining rebel group, which regularly bombs oil pipelines.

The results are likely to lead to a last-minute scramble among presidential candidates to form coalitions to better position themselves ahead of what is seen as a wide-open presidential race.

While alliances are formed in the next two months, candidates will need to gather more support for their campaigns. The FARC peace deal and ELN negotiations will top the agenda as the presidential election campaign gets underway. In the centre-left primary, former guerrilla Gustavo Petro trounced his only opponent, Carlos Caicedo, the ex-Mayor of Santa Marta, winning 84.68 percent of the vote.

More than 6 million votes were cast in the three-way right-wing primary and 3.5 million in the two-way left-wing contest. Over 9 million citizens voted in Interparty Consultations to choose presidential candidates.

"Our results were very positive", Petro told his followers.

"Since the bilateral ceasefire ended, there have been too many deaths on both sides, too many wounded, too many victims - this is what we must stop", Santos said in a televised address Monday afternoon.

Duque has said he would not "thrash" the peace accord with the FARC, but he would attempt to modify certain aspects, like a provision that allows the former rebels with drug-trafficking convictions to participate in politics. The pro peace deal vote is now split among Gustavo Petro, Sergio Fajardo and Humberto de la Calle.

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