Peace deal backers suffer in Colombian congressional elections

Peace deal backers suffer in Colombian congressional elections”

Gustavo Petro, a former Bogota mayor who is seeking to become conservative Colombia's first leftist president, will oppose him after winning almost two million votes, 85 percent of the poll, in his primary.

They will also not be represented in the Presidential race in May as their candidate, former guerrilla commander Rodrigo "Timochenko" Londono stopped campaigning to recover from heart surgery.

Petro's promise of a "social economy" that would raise taxes and shift away from oil, Colombia's top export, towards agriculture has anxious investors in the Andean nation as opinion polls showed the former member of the disbanded M-19 guerrilla group and ex-mayor of Bogota running ahead of Duque.

"This is the first time in more than half a century that the FARC, instead of sabotaging the elections, are taking part in it", he said, adding that the ELN had "respected" their ceasefire.

Supporters of 57-year-old Petro's Colombia Humana party highlight his work to improve conditions for the poor. And investors have been wary of Petro's promise to create a "social economy" that would shift away from oil, Colombia's top export, toward agriculture.

Some voters gathered outside polling places to protest a shortage of ballots for the primaries.

No party won a majority in either legislature.

Other parties skeptical of the Farc accords, such as Radical Change and the Conservatives, came in second and third. More than 220,000 people were killed during the conflict.

Right-wing parties opposed to a peace deal with leftist FARC former rebels were leading Colombia's legislative elections but falling short of a majority in Congress, partial results showed this morning.

But in Sunday's legislative elections, Petro's Decencia won just 1.7 percent of the vote in the lower house and 3.4 percent in the Senate.

The peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guarantees their new political party 10 of the 280 seats in the new Congress.

The Farc, who kept their acronym when they transformed from an insurgency into a political party, took a meagre 0.33% of the vote.

Casting a shadow over the party's political ambitions is the recent withdrawal of its presidential candidate for health reasons.

The Peace and Reconciliation Foundation said that 65 politicians tied to corruption scandals could win seats due to their ability to buy votes in rural and impoverished areas.

The FARC's Jorge Torres Victoria, who fought under the name "Pablo Catatumbo", was voting for the first time in his life, and hoping to win a Senate seat.

High voter abstention is typical in the country.

Sunday's primaries - in which Duque won nearly 42 percent more votes than Petro did - were considered a better test of voter support than often inaccurate opinion polls, although some voters will have participated strategically and may not back either victor in the presidential vote.

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