Colombian voters await deeply divided final round presidential election

World Today

Colombia holds the final round of its presidential election Sunday. Deep polarization over the country’s peace accord with the FARC rebel group has left voters with two candidates with very different visions for the country. CGTN’s Michelle Begue reports.

Colombian voters will face stark alternatives when casting their ballot for president on Sunday.

On one side is right-wing candidate Ivan Duque, a 41-year-old economist and former senator. His promises to overhaul the landmark 2016 peace accord with FARC rebels has gained traction with conservative voters, and he has the lead in most opinion polls.

Described as business-friendly, he promises economic measures to restart Colombia’s sluggish economy.

“Investors can have absolute clarity that my objective is for them to come to the country and have their investments translate into an improvement in the living conditions of Colombians,” Duque said.

On the other side is the 58-year-old left-wing candidate and former Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro.

Once a member of the demobilized guerilla group M-19, Petro is promising to promote ways of lessening Colombia’s economic inequality. His economic model is based on strengthening the agricultural industry and developing alternative energy sources.

“On this beautiful land, in this very place, a democracy can exist, social justice can exist,” Petro thundered while on stage. “An educated people that becomes a society of knowledge, that can build a fair and peaceful society, is possible.”

Colombians may have two economic paths to choose from, but analysts say deep polarization over the country’s peace accords with FARC may be the driving force on Sunday.

“In these campaigns there are clear proposals but I think – like in many elections – their proposals will take a step back on election day, and emotion is what’s going to push a large percentage of citizens to go out and vote,” Political analyst Augusto Reyes said.

Whoever the winner, the new president will face the daunting task of uniting a divided country trying to recover from divisions that developed over half a century of armed conflict.