Politics

Colombia elects ex rebel as wing president

The first left-leaning president of Colombia is Gustavo Petro, a former guerrilla warrior and former mayor of Bogota.

In the run-off election on Sunday, Mr. Petro, a sitting senator, defeated right-wing construction tycoon Rodolfo Hernández.

According to statistics, he won with 50.5% of the vote, narrowly defeating his billionaire opponent by about 700,000 votes.

The outcome represents a significant shift for the nation, which has been run for decades by moderates and conservatives.

Numerous people were killed during anti-government rallies last year, and there was a great deal of unhappiness with how the country has being managed at the time of the referendum.

Mr. Petro, 62, praised the outcome, calling it “a triumph for God and the people.”

“May so much suffering be cushioned by the joy that today floods the heart of the homeland,” Mr Petro wrote on Twitter. “Today is the day of the streets and squares.” His running mate Francia Marquez, a single mother and former housekeeper, will become the country’s first black woman vice-president.

In a video posted to social media, Mr Hernandez, who ran a non-traditional campaign that relied heavily on TikTok and other social media, conceded to Mr Petro. “I accept the results of this election,” he said. “I hope that Mr Gustavo Petro knows how to run the country and is faithful to his discourse against corruption,” he added.

President Ivan Duque, who was barred from seeking re-election by Colombia’s term limits, said on Twitter that he had called Mr Petro to congratulate him. He added that they had “agreed to meet in the coming days to initiate a harmonious, institutional and transparent transition”.

Mr. Petro participated in the 1980s M-19 movement, which is no longer active. The left-leaning rebel group was one of the guerrilla groups that fought the government.

Prior to joining the political opposition, he served as a senator, a congressman, and the mayor of Bogota after serving time in prison for illegally possessing weapons.

Mr. Petro ran on a radical platform and promised to tackle inequality by implementing free university education, pension changes, and heavy taxes on unproductive land during the election campaign.

Additionally, he promised to explore discussions with the still-active ELN rebels and to fully implement a 2016 peace agreement that put an end to a 50-year war with the Farc communist guerrilla organization.

 

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