Colombians are called to the polls on Sunday for the first round of the presidential election. Election which, for the first time in the history of the country, could entrust the reins of the country to a leftist candidate, Gustavo Petro, a former guerrilla. Colombia votes on Sunday, May 29, to choose a new president, with the leitmotiv of the change to which the vast majority of Colombians aspire, and an opponent as a favorite: Gustavo Petro, who could become the first left-wing president in recent history. of the country. Nearly 39 million voters are expected in 12,000 polling stations, where they will have the choice between six candidates, to nominate a replacement for the unpopular outgoing conservative president Ivan Duque, who cannot run again [la Constitution colombienne oblige les présidents à un mandat unique]The election is taking place in a climate of intense political tension, after four years without major fundamental reforms marked by the pandemic, a deep recession, massive demonstrations in the cities and an increase in violence by armed groups in the countryside.Gustavo Petro and his slogan “For life”The “paro” (strike) of spring 2021, severely repressed by the police, revealed the extent of the frustrations, especially among young people, in the face of poverty, inequality and the corruption, an endemic evil in the country. In rural areas, guerrillas and armed groups linked to drug trafficking have increased their violence and their hold on communities, undermining the few achievements of the peace agreement signed in 2016 with the Marxist FARC.>> To see on France 24: Special program: CAP AMERICAS the hopes and expectations of Colombian youthLeading the polls, the left-wing senator Gustavo Petro, a former guerrilla converted to social democracy, econo omiste and former mayor of Bogota, knew how to capitalize on the thirst for “change” which he made his emblem. during a final debate on Friday. “Either we stay on what we have: corruption, violence and hunger. Or we change to move towards peace, productive progress, and a democracy with transparency”, he promised, calling on his fellow citizens to unite “for life”, another flagship slogan of his campaign.>> To read on France 24: Colombia: Francia Marquez, an Afro-Colombian environmental activist, soon to be vice-president? This is the third time that Gustavo Petro, 62, is running for president, and for many activists in his left-wing coalition of the “Historical Pact” – which came out on top in the legislative elections last March – it’s “now or never”. as running mate for the vice-presidency an Afro-Colombian, Francia Marquez, charismatic activist with a feminist and anti-racist discourse, who has already established herself as one of the outstanding phenomena of this presidential election. Federico “Fico” Gutierez, candidate defender of Colombians “ordinary” Opposite, the cons candidate Server Federico Gutierrez, former mayor of Medellin, wants to be the defender of “ordinary” Colombians, to whom he promises “order and security”. From the classic speech denouncing the “communist” scarecrow, “Fico”, for its supporters, has also adopted in recent days the refrain of change, calling itself the candidate of “common sense”. “What I want is to unite Colombia because it needs a change. But this change must be safe, to bring us to a safe destination without endangering […] the country,” said “Fico” at Friday’s debate. today in disarray.”Fico” is seriously hounded in the polls by the independent candidate Rodolfo Hernandez, a 77-year-old entrepreneur with a populist discourse vilifying corruption. A second round is scheduled for June 19 in case, very likely according to the press, Petro would not pass the majority of 50%. Many international observers present Very polarized, the campaign was marked by assassination threats against the favorite and his Afro-Colombian running mate, constantly protected by a hedge of armored shields. days showed a “high level of violence and disinformation […] on social networks and the media”, alarmed the Electoral Observation Mission (MOE), a coalition of NGOs. After inconsistencies in the pre-counting of the legislative elections to the detriment of his camp, Petro has already said worried about a “lack of guarantees” for this Sunday, in particular around the counting software which could not be audited in time despite the instructions of the justice and the government.>> To see: Presidential election in Colombia: the left at the gates of power? “We have doubts,” he repeated on Friday, even referring to possible “fraud”. The “Historical Pact” plans to send nearly 69,000 activists to attend the vote, for 61,500 on the side from “Fico”. A plethora of international observers will also monitor the poll, including the missions of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the European Union (EU) which called for “moderation and responsibility”. Everything is ready”, affirms for its part the National Register, in charge of the organization of the ballot, which will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. local time. The government has deployed 220,000 additional police and military personnel throughout the country, making a total of 300,000 men who will be in charge of securing the vote, supervised by 690,000 assessors. According to the ombudsman [médiateur] Colombia, the ballot is at risk in at least 300 municipalities, in 27 out of 32 departments, under the threat of armed groups, while the drug traffickers of the powerful Clan del Golfo imposed an “armed strike” in early May which paralyzed many campaigns in the north of the country. With AFP
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