A group of 40 conservative congressmen announced their support for president Juan Manuel Santos’ re-election, Colombia’s El Pais newspaper reported on Wednesday.
“The Conservative Party has been a fundamental part of the National Unity, and we have achieved results that the country is beginning to perceive, as never seen before,” said Santos, adding, “with the support of the Conservative Party, victory will be stronger.”
The conservatives’ announcement comes after speculations over whether their leader and losing candidate in the first round of presidential elections, Marta Lucia Ramirez, would support Oscar Ivan Zuluaga or Santos in the second round of elections on June 15.
The announcement of support from the 40 conservative congressmen will put pressure on Ramirez to make up her mind while complicating her position if she chooses to stand behind Zuluaga.
According to El Espectador, Congressman Arturo Yepes Alzate stated that his support was given because “one cannot allow the concentration of power and ‘warlordism’ of [former president] Alvaro Uribe Velez,” who fully supports the Zuluaga campaign.
Referring to the ongoing peace negotiations between the Santos administration and Colombia’s oldest and largest guerrilla group the FARC, Congressman Efrain Cepeda Sarabia said that members of the Conservative Party “bet on peace in Colombia because that will result in greater welfare for Colombians.”
Meanwhile, Santos’ rival Zuluaga, is running on a platform of ending all peace talks with the FARC if he were to be elected.
On his Twitter account, Santos expressed how important the conservative support was to his re-election.
Agradezco importante adhesión del partido conservador. Trabajaremos juntos con convicción y compromiso por la paz y la prosperidad del país
— Juan Manuel Santos (@JuanManSantos) 28. maj 2014
After the votes were counted for the first round of Colombia’s presidential elections on Sunday, Santos came in second behind Democratic Center candidate Zuluaga. The two will go on to the second round where it will be determined who will run the country for the next four years.