Colombia Presidential Election: a profile on frontrunner candidate Ivan Duque

World Today

Colombia will be holding a first round of Presidential Elections on Sunday.

There are a handful of candidates running, but two have taken the lead in polls.

One is a candidate who claims he will not bow-down to armed groups and the demobilized FARC – and his message is resonating.

CGTN correspondent Michelle Begue reports.
Follow Michelle Begue on Twitter @mbegue

More than a year after the signing of a peace agreement, there is discontent among Colombians over the country’s unresolved issues.

At a political rally with victims of the FARC, presidential candidate Ivan Duque expressed his support for victims. He also criticized the deal that allotted 10 seats to FARC members in Colombia’s Congress.

“I cannot accept that the victims have been used for international recognition, when the truth is the victims have been forgotten and thevictimizers are welcomed into congress on a red carpet without telling the truth, paying reparations to victims or serving time.” said Duque.

At the rally, Duque promised to modify the signed agreement with the FARC. His party’s slogan is “Firm Hand, Big Heart.” For Duque, a “firm hand” means an aggressive security plan for battling narco- trafficking.

Duque is a former Senator, and now the candidate of Colombia’s Centro Democrático, or Democratic Center—a party formed by former President Alvaro Uribe. Uribe is considered a moderate voice in the party composed of moderate conservatives and far right radicals.

Duque’s detractors say Uribe would control a Duque government. When asked about this in an interview with CGTN, Duque said he is no one’s puppet. “I am also the candidate of the Catholics, Christians, independents, and workers, who is inviting all the Colombian sectors to build a future with a great citizens coalition that wants to govern Colombia correctly,” he added.

Five years ago, Duque worked at a development bank in Washington, DC—the city where he earned two Master’s degrees. Since then, he served just one term in the Colombian Senate. Despite limited political experience, and his youth, the 41 year-old lawyer is now a front runner for the Colombian presidency.