Polling stations close around Colombia

Latecomers raced to place their vote in Colombia’s congressional elections, as polling stations around the Andean nation closed at 4pm (ET) Sunday. Voting took place without major incident and the election results are expected to be known before midnight, Colombian media report.

Colombia’s National Registrar, Carlos Sanchez, warned that vote counting will take time and added that voter absenteeism could have a significant impact on the outcome.

The country’s borders, which were closed during the voting period have been reopened and preliminary results of the elections will be announced around 4.30pm.

However, the Electoral Observation Mission, an NGO focused on fair elections, says that in various parts of the country candidates had been paying in between 20,000 and 100,000 pesos per vote and that in the northern Bolivar and Santander departments several already marked ballots were found. The NGO did not release the names of those candidate congressmen who would have benefitted from the fraud.

According to Al Jazeera, “[Reports] are suggesting that paramilitaries have been forcing people, especially in rural areas, by telling them which candidate they have to go for.”

Colombian Defense Minister Gabriel Silva said that despite a few incidences, which were quickly dealt with, these congressional elections have been Colombia’s calmest in 25 years. A few pollings stations in the south of the country were moved to different locations following indications that guerrillas of the FARC were planning to carry out attacks.

Some 440,000 policemen and soldiers were in charge of preventing any disturbances of the public order that could endanger the democratic process.

The Organization of American States sent 100 international observers to monitor the fairness of the elections.

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