Colombia: FARC performs poorly in first electoral test

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Gustavo Petro, a former Bogota mayor who is seeking to become conservative Colombia's first leftist president, will oppose him after winning almost two million votes, 85 per cent of the poll, in his primary.

"(MENAFN - Colombo Gazette) wp-image-124393" src="https://i2.wp.com/colombogazette.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/100371056_hi045473481.jpg?resize=278%2C156" alt=" width="278" height="156" data-recalc-dims="1" / Colombia's conservative parties, opposed to the 2016 peace deal with Farc rebels, have taken the lead in the country's elections.

The Centro Democratico party of former president Alvaro Uribe, a fierce opponent of the peace agreement, polled the most votes, winning 19 seats in the Senate and 33 in the lower house.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has said peace talks with the rebel National Liberation Army (ELN) will resume after a six-week halt. If none of them get more than 50 percent of the vote on the first round of the presidential elections, Petro and Duque most likely will face off in a second round on June 17.

The party hopes to win many more seats and backed 23 candidates for Senate and 51 for the lower house.

Catatumbo, along with nine of his former comrades, is guaranteed a non-voting seat in Colombia's congress as part of the controversial peace deal that initially failed to pass a referendum. The leftist parties also performed better on the Pacific coast, while both coalitions were virtually tied in Bogota, Colombia's capital city.

Other candidates include Liberal party elder statesman Humberto de la Calle, who lead government negotiators at FARC talks, and former defence minister and USA ambassador Juan Carlos Pinzon. The Green Alliance, one of the parties supporting Fajardo, doubled its vote tally from the last congressional elections, though it only came in sixth overall this year. He won 2.8 million votes in his primary on Sunday. It was 1.2 million votes less than Duque's total but still made him a top presidential contender.

"Our results were very positive" Petro told his followers after results were published. "The presidential campaign starts today".

Many Colombians felt that the former rebels should have been held accountable for crimes, rather than given political influence. He has also called for tougher controls on the FARC's finances. The pro peace deal vote is now split among Gustavo Petro, Sergio Fajardo and Humberto de la Calle.

Marquez said the group was open to backing a presidential candidate from a different party if that person supports the peace deal.

On the right, Ivan Duque, closely associated with ex-president Uribe, won through with 67.72 percent of the vote and named Martha Lucia Martinez as his running mate, the first woman appointed to that post in Colombian history.

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