Colombia’s President-Elect Juan Manuel Santos says outgoing President Alvaro Uribe is to thank for his victory in the nation’s Sunday presidential elections, and promises to hit left-wing guerrilla group the FARC even harder than his predecessor.
“As of now I am the new president elect of all Colombians, of all those who supported me and all those who didn’t. I am and I will be the president of national unity,” Santos said to the thousands of supporters gathered in Bogota to celebrate the Partido de la U’s leader’s victory.
“If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants,” Santos said, quoting Isaac Newton to express that his triumph in the polls is thanks to the successes of Uribe’s administration. According to the president-elect, his success in the polls indicates that Colombians want to continue with the program of Uribe’s administration.
Santos promised that his incoming government will continue with and build on Uribe’s policies, in particular that of “democratic security,” to fight even harder against the FARC and against drug trafficking.
“While [the FARC] insist on terrorist methods, while they insist on attacking the people there will be no dialogue, and we will continue to confront them with total toughness, with total firmness,” Santos said.
“Colombia is leaving its nightmare… the FARC’s time has run out,” he continued, but added that the doors would remain open to guerrillas who wanted to demobilize and re-join society.
“The time has come for national unity,” Santos said and called for political factions, including that of his unsuccessful Green Party opponent Antanas Mockus, to join his “government of national unity.”
“No more useless confrontations, no more divisions, the time has arrived for union, the time has arrived for work, employment and entrpreneurialism,” the president-elect said, adding that work, work and more work will be the foundations of his government.
In regards to international relations Santos spoke of a Latin America “united in the generation of prosperity and well-being.”
“Diplomacy and respect will be the core of our international relations… I invite [other nations] to open up paths, for the good of our people,” Santos continued, inviting neighbor nations to work in unity with his administration.
Santos also said that the current “train crash” between the executive and the judiciary is “unhealthy” and promised to meet with the courts to find a solution as to how they can work in harmony.
Santos thanked the Colombian people for voting and the members of the armed forces who made it safe to do so. He gave tribute to the ten members of the armed forces who lost their lives in combat against terrorist groups during election day.
The “Uribista” invited Colombia’s new Congress to work together to strengthen the nation’s democratic institutions and pointed out that in just four years his party, Partido de la U has become Colombia’s main political force. Santos is likely to have even greater support in Colombian congress than outgoing President Uribe
Santos also mentioned that with some nine million votes, he had received the highest amount of votes of any candidate ever in Colombia’s history. This is the first time that Santos – who had previously been appointed to positions such as defense minister in Uribe’s administartion – has been elected to public office.
“I will not let you down, I will not disappoint you,” Colombia’s president-elect said
In the Sunday’s second round presidential election Santos won with with 69% of the vote, while Mockus received 27%.
Voter turnout was down 11% compared to the first round of the elections, with guerrilla violence, poor weather, and World Cup fever taking their toll.