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Colombia polls shut in tight presidential race between leftist and enterprise magnate


A flyer with the picture of Colombian left-wing presidential candidate Gustavo Petro and Colombian centre-right presidential candidate Rodolfo Hernandez is pictured days earlier than the second spherical of presidential election in Bogota, Colombia June 16, 2022. (REUTERS)

BOGOTA/BUCARAMANGA  – Polls have closed in Colombia, the place voters turned out on Sunday to elect their subsequent president, selecting between a leftist former guerrilla who’s pushing profound social change and an eccentric development magnate who has promised to battle corruption.

The nationwide registrar has advised native media he expects preliminary outcomes by 7 p.m. native time (0000 GMT).

Candidates Gustavo Petro, as soon as a member of the M-19 rebels, and Rodolfo Hernandez, who first gathered help by TikTok movies, have been technically tied in polling.

Petro, a former mayor of capital Bogota and present senator, has pledged to battle inequality with free college schooling, pension reforms and excessive taxes on unproductive land.

His proposals – particularly a ban on new oil initiatives – have startled some traders, although he has promised to respect present contracts.

“We’re one step from attaining the actual change we’ve got waited for all our lives,” Petro wrote on Twitter. “There are not any doubts, solely certainty. We’re going to make historical past.”

Petro, who’s making his third presidential bid, could be Colombia’s first leftist president, including the Andean nation to an inventory of Latin American nations which have elected progressives lately.

Petro, 62, stated he was tortured by the army when he was detained for his involvement with the guerrillas and his potential victory has high-ranking armed forces officers bracing for change.

“Right now I’m voting for my daughter – she turned 15 two weeks in the past and requested for only one present: that I vote for Petro,” stated safety guard Pedro Vargas, 48, in Bogota’s southwest.

“I hope this man fulfills the hopes of my daughter, she has quite a lot of religion in his guarantees,” added Vargas, who stated he by no means votes.

Hernandez, who served as mayor of Bucaramanga, was a shock contender within the run-off and has promised to shrink authorities and to finance social applications by stopping corruption.

He has additionally pledged to supply free narcotics to addicts in an effort to fight drug trafficking.

Regardless of his anti-graft rhetoric, Hernandez is beneath a corruption investigation himself over allegations he intervened in a trash administration tender to profit an organization his son lobbied for. He has denied wrongdoing.

Hernandez – like Petro – has pledged to totally implement a 2016 peace cope with FARC rebels and search talks with the still-active ELN guerrillas, although he accuses that group of kidnapping and murdering his daughter Juliana in 2004.

The ELN has denied any involvement and her physique has by no means been discovered.

“The election is easy. Vote for somebody who’s managed by the identical individuals as at all times or vote for me, who isn’t managed by anybody,” stated the 77-year-old, who has eschewed conventional campaigning in favor of posting whimsical social media movies.

Jose Mesa, 43, a farmer from Bucaramanga, stated he had by no means voted earlier than however was supporting Hernandez.

“He has the values this nation wants,” Mesa stated. “We like that he says issues instantly.”

Hernandez has pledged to respect the outcomes, whereas Petro has raised doubts in regards to the integrity of the depend after irregularities in congressional tallies in March.

Petro on Sunday urged voters to examine their ballots for any extraneous marks which may invalidate them, saying there was a “systematic” try and nullify votes for him.

Each males have canceled marketing campaign occasions due to what they stated have been threats to their lives.

Protection Minister Diego Molano advised journalists on Sunday afternoon that the killing of an electoral volunteer in Guapi, Cauca province, was beneath investigation.

Whoever wins, Colombia will inaugurate its first Black lady vice-president in August – Petro’s working mate Francia Marquez and Hernandez’s second-in-command Marelen Castillo are each Afro-Colombian.

Colombia’s police stated this week they’re on most alert after detecting plans by radical teams to commit acts of violence linked to the vote.

Some 39 million Colombians are eligible to solid ballots.

Just below 55% of them turned out for the primary spherical – which, just like the second, is going down over a vacation weekend.

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