Key political backers for the campaigns of incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos and right-wing Democratic Center (Centro Democratico) nominee Oscar Ivan Zuluaga followed the candidates to the polls to vote in Sunday’s run-off elections.
|Colombia’s 2014 elections|
Ex-President, current Senator-elect, and Democratic Center leader Alvaro Uribe submitted his vote minutes shortly after Santos, who he has criticized repeatedly. According to the former president, the vote came with “joy” for the hardline security policies embodied by his candidate, Zuluaga, and “sadness” at alleged voter intimidation in northwest Colombia.
“I voted with joy and sadness. I voted with joy for Zuluaga and Holmes, because they represent the democratic values without duplicity; a safe and peaceful country; a private dynamic and inclusive economy; and a socially just country, paved with education,” said Uribe
According to Uribe, the FARC guerrilla group, Colombia’s largest, has threatened local populations in the northwest of the country, forcing them to vote against Zuluaga. The FARC is engaged in ongoing peace talks with the Colombian government, which Uribe has staunchly opposed.
“And I voted with sadness because in many regions in Colombia, FARC terrorists and criminal groups are threatening to commit massacres on those who vote for Zuluaga and they forced them with rifles to vote for candidate Santos,” states Uribe after submitting his vote in the urn.
The Democratic Center profess to have forwarded 45 denunciations against the FARC, a claim that has been denied by authorities, according to the El Universal newspaper.
The ex-president left shorty after voting in order to avoid being booed by assembled crowds, as had happened when he presented his vote for the first round of presidential elections on May 25, El Universal reported.
Santos also received public support from some of his most prominent endorsers. Clara Lopez and Aida Abella, who ran against the president before lending him their support following defeat in first round elections, cast their vote together Sunday morning in Bogota. The former running mates characterized their votes as being in favor of the peace process.
“I exercised my vote for peace. A vote with responsibility for Colombia,” said Lopez on Twitter, where she posted a picture of herself alongside Abella.
— Canal Capital (@CanalCapital) June 15, 2014
Opposition Congressman and Senator-elect Ivan Cepeda also tweeted a photo of himself next to Lopez outside a Bogota polling station.
“We vote for peace,” he said, underneath the photo.
Votamos por la paz. pic.twitter.com/fkcWKmIBO1
— Iván Cepeda Castro (@IvanCepedaCast) June 15, 2014
Support and turnout from Colombia’s left is considered critical to a Santos victory, after a 60% abstention rate in first round elections. Santos has framed his campaign as a referendum on the FARC peace talks.
Polls opened at 8AM Sunday morning and will close at 4PM, with initial results expected to be announced by 8PM.
- Uribe denuncia presiones armadas para votar por Santos (El Universal)