Presidential candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga says that as part of a new deal with Conservative power-broker Marta Lucia Ramirez he will change his previous stance of suspending peace talks if he were elected President, Colombia’s Blu Radio reported on Thursday.
This apparent about-face comes the day after Zualuaga, Uribe’s Centro Democratico candidate for president, made a deal with the Conservative party’s former Presidential candidate Marta Lucia Ramirez.
According to Bogota’s Blu Radio, Ramirez made the endorsement of his candidacy by her bloc within the Conservative Party depend on Zuluaga’s commitment to the Colombian government’s ongoing peace talks with the country’s oldest guerrilla group, FARC.
She reportedly told Zuluaga to have a “compass of patience.”
Oscar Ivan Zuluaga’s pledge to continue with the peace talks is the opposite of the what his party was saying during the congressional and presidential elections. Zuluaga’s patron, former President Alvaro Uribe, has been publicly criticizing the current peace talks with the FARC rebels led by President Juan Manuel Santos.
First round success for Zuluaga
Zuluaga got the most votes at Sunday’s presidential election with 29% of the vote compared to Santos’s 25%. Santos has been campaigning primarily on his leadership of the current peace talks. According to Zuluaga in his interview with Blu Radio, the flip flop is the result of his need to make alliances with the Conservative Party to prepare for the second round of the presidential election on June 15.
Conservative Party candidate, Marta Lucia Ramirez won third place in the first presidential election round with 15.5% of the vote. Ramirez’s votes are of crucial importance to the second round and will most likely tip the scale towards Zuluaga with her endorsement.
What will your supporters think about your flip-flop?
When asked by Blu Radio what Zuluaga had to say to his supporters that voted for him in the first round on his proposal of suspending peace talks, he responded that he “is sure that his supporters understand the necessity to make accords with certain political sectors to fortify his candidacy for the second round.”
Zuluaga stated in his interview that, “I defend and will always defend a negotiated peace with the foundation that Marta Lucia Ramirez has championed. I will maintain the same demands and conditions I have always had.”
The support of the Conservative party is split in this latest round of elections, with some congressman and senators supporting Santos and some Zuluaga.
The new conservative alliance plans to continue the peace talks but impose the conditions on the FARC of ending child recruitment, use of anti-personnel mines, and terrorist attacks in the first month of continued negotiations. Zuluaga also would like to review the previous accords agreed upon in Havana before continuing and not continue negotiations “behind the backs of Colombians.”
Ramirez campaigned on supporting the peace talks with condition that the FARC stop recruiting children and cease their terrorist activity.
The leader of the Democratic Center party, former President Alvaro Uribe has stated in the past that his party will never sit down with “terrorists,” but Zuluaga said his candidacy has Uribe’s support on this matter.