Colombia’s incumbent President Juan Manuel Santo’s has cast his vote in the country’s presidential elections and called on the country’s citizens to “strengthen” Colombia’s democracy by turning out to vote, local media reported on Sunday.
President Santos cast his vote shortly after polling stations opened across the country and stated that citizens need to exercise their democratic right to ensure the “improvement” of the country’s democratic system, La fm Radio reported.
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“The call on Colombians is that they vote early, this will strengthen our institutions, and elect the person to continue improving them,” Santos stated shortly after casting his vote.
“We have taken all the precautions so the elections are transparent and peaceful,” he said referring to the wide security measures taken by the government in this year’s elections.
Over half of Colombia’s Armed Forces will be covering 99.52% of all polling stations to secure peaceful elections.
MORE: Over half of Colombia’s armed forces will be on active duty during presidential election
Santos has pinned his re-election hopes on the ongoing peace process with the country’s largest guerrilla group the FARC, which has been taking place in Cuba since 2012 and seeks to end 50 years of civil conflict.
Both the FARC and the ELN rebel group have declared a cease-fire during the presidential elections, the first time this has occurred in Colombia since the conflict began.
MORE: Sunday will be Colombia’s ’1st elections completely in peace:’ Electoral Observers
The presidential campaigns have been labelled by some analysts as the “dirtiest” in Colombia’s history as scandals involving Santos and opposition candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga from the Democratic Center (Centro Democratico – CD) have distracted the media’s spotlight from presidential policies.
MORE: Polling opens in Colombia’s scandal-ridden presidential elections
The incumbent hopes his roadmap to peace with the FARC is enough to edge out presidential hopefuls Zuluaga, Marta Lucia Ramirez from the Conservative Party (Partido Conservador – CP), Clara Lopez of the Democratic Pole (Polo Democratico – PD), and Enrique Peñalosa of the Green Alliance (Alianza Verde – AV) party.
Voting opened at 8AM and will close at 4PM, with results expected to be reported prior to 8PM local time.