Iván Duque of Colombia’s Democratic Center party has handily defeated Gustavo Petro of the Colombia Humana movement in Sunday’s presidential runoff election.
With more than 99 percent of the votes counted, Duque, a protégé of former president Álvaro Uribe, held a 53.9 percent to 42 percent lead over Petro, a former leftist guerrilla and mayor of Bogota. Duque, 41, will become Colombia’s youngest president when he assumes office from Juan Manuel Santos in August.
Duque opposed the 2016 peace agreement with leftist FARC guerrillas negotiated by Santos and has said he will change the terms of the pact, removing some of its legal protections for former rebels. He also said he would end negotiations with ELN, another rebel group, currently underway in Cuba. Peace negotiations with the rebel groups had deeply divided Colombians.
In addition to the peace negotiations with the guerrillas, the election campaign also focused on traditional right-left economic issues, with Duque advocating easing economic restrictions imposed by the Santos government and expanding trade. Petro, on the other hand, advocated more social programs to assist the poor and higher taxes on the wealthy.
Also prominent in the campaign was the issue of how to control Colombia’s expanding illegal drug trade and rising crime rate.