On June 15th, Colombia will hold a runoff Presidential election where incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos will face off with right-wing candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga. CCTV Correspondent, Michelle Begue, has this story from Bogot.
With the announcement of new exploratory peace talks with the second largest rebel group in Colombia, the ELN, it seems more is at stake this Sunday.
As Colombians head to the ballot box to vote this weekend, President Juan Manuel Santos made a surprise announcement. The government and the second largest rebel group called the National Liberation Army, or ELN, have been exploring peace talks since January. Santos said he decided to go public because the peace negotiations in Cuba were entering a final phase and no peace deal is complete without the participation of ELN. According to W Radio, opposition candidate, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga criticized the talks, calling them opportunistic.
With no more polls allowed before June 15th election day, it is hard to know if this will sway undecided voters. Opposition candidate Zuluaga has voiced a tough stance against the ongoing peace negotiations in Havana with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC. Zuluaga says he would give the leftist rebel group a month to comply with new conditions to continue negotiating. However analysts say the new conditions are not the only change that Zuluaga would bring to the negotiating table. The former finance minister says he would review all of the three previously negotiated points on a five point agenda that include: agriculture, political participation, narco-trafficking, victim rights and the end of the conflict.
While it seems the end to more than 50 years of armed conflict is at stake in this election, the first election round showed a surprising amount of voter apathy. Sixty percent of Colombians did not vote in the first round, the highest abstention the country had seen in almost two decades. More than 32 million Colombians are registered to vote this weekend.