Colombians head to polls to elect successor to Juan Manuel Santos

Colombians head to polls to elect successor to Juan Manuel Santos

Incumbent Juan Manuel Santos is ineligible for re-election after serving two terms.

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Photo: Reuters/Henry Romero

Colombians will head to the polls today to vote in a new president; incumbent Juan Manuel Santos is ineligible for re-election after serving two terms.

Right-winger Ivan Duque and leftist Gustavo Petro are considered the frontrunners, with Duque polling some 40% of the vote, ahead of Petro’s 30%. But if neither manages to secure 50% of the vote today, the top two candidates will feature in a run-off on June 17.

Today’s election could be one of Colombia’s most divisive, as Duque and Petro disagree over virtually every issue. At stake are the 2016 Peace Accords between Santos’ government and the FARC guerrilla group. Indeed, Duque—who led a campaign to reject the peace agreement—has vowed to modify the Accords, with prison terms for former fighters and a ban on political participation on his agenda. For his part, Petro—a former guerrilla fighter himself—supports the agreement.

With former guerrillas unlikely to be open to renegotiating the 2016 agreement, a Duque victory could push former fighters to join the 1200 FARC dissidents that are currently wreaking havoc in Colombia’s countryside.