FARC peace deal at risk as conservative Duque becomes Colombian president
Iran Press TV
Mon Jun 18, 2018 05:27AM
Right-wing candidate Ivan Duque, an opponent of the peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), emerges victorious in the country's presidential runoff, prompting the ex-rebel group to urge the president-elect to show "good sense" in dealing with the landmark agreement.
With almost all the votes counted in the election's second round on Sunday, Duque won 54 percent of the ballots, while his left-wing rival Gustavo Petro garnered 41.8 percent, electoral authority figures showed.
Officials put the turnout at some 53 percent, down by 10 percent compared to the first round.
Duque, supported by former president Alvaro Uribe, will be sworn in as president on August 7 to become the youngest leader in the Latin American country's 132-year history as a republic.
The 41-year old president-elect has campaigned on changing the 2016 agreement that put an end to a five-decade conflict with FARC rebels.
The rebel group was disarmed and transformed into a political party after the peace deal took effect under outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos. He won the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for striking the deal.
"Peace is something all Colombians yearn for, and peace means that we turn the page on the fractures that have divided us into friends and enemies of peace," Duque told his cheering supporters in Bogota after winning the election on Sunday.
"That peace we long for -- that demands corrections -- will have corrections, so that the victims are the center of the process, to guarantee truth, justice and reparation," he added.
Duque ha also promised to impose tougher punishments on rebels for war crimes.
Most of the more than 7,000 ex-FARC rebels have now started new civilian lives across the country after laying down arms.
The former rebel group, which did not contest the election, immediately reacted to the president-elect's remarks in a statement, calling on him to show "good sense" in dealing with the landmark agreement.
"What the country demands is an integral peace, which will lead us to the hoped-for reconciliation," the FARC said in a statement.
They have also called for an early meeting with Duque.
FARC leader Rodrigo Londono also congratulated Duque in a tweet, saying he respected Colombians' decision.
The new president's plans for changing the deal, though not known yet, are expected to face considerable opposition in Congress and from Colombia's Constitutional Court.
He will also face numerous challenges after taking office as the country's economy remains weak, and while organized drug trafficking gangs have moved into areas once controlled by the FARC.
In addition, Duque will have to tackle an exodus of Venezuelans as the neighboring country is also grappling with an economic crisis of its own.
More than a million people have crossed border into Colombia during the last 15 months, with the arrivals expected to continue, according to the Colombian government.
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