BOGOTA – Ivan Duque, of former President Alvaro Uribe’s Democratic Center party, won the first round of the presidential vote held in Colombia on Sunday with just over 39 percent of the ballots, according to the official vote count.
With 99.46 percent of the ballots counted, Duque has 7,539,930 votes, or 39.11 percent, followed by left-wing Colombia Humana’s Gustavo Petro, with 4,838,639 votes – 25.10 percent.
In third place is Sergio Fajardo, with the center-left Coalicion Colombia, with 4,579,684 votes, or 23.76 percent.
Among the other candidates are former Vice President German Vargas Lleras, with the center-right Mejor Vargas Lleras movement, with 1,400,648 votes (7.26 percent); the government’s former negotiator with the FARC guerrillas, Humberto de la Calla, with the Liberal Party, with 398,217 votes (2.06 percent); and evangelical pastor Jorge Trujillo, with the Todos Somos Colombia movement, with 75,502 votes (0.39 percent).
The results confirm that a runoff election will be needed between the two top vote-getters on June 17.
The six candidates were vying to govern the country until 2022 with a total of 36.2 million Colombians eligible to cast ballots.
President Juan Manuel Santos urged Colombians to vote “for the good of future generations” in choosing his successor and spoke with reporters after voting with first lady Maria Clemencia Rodriguez and their children in Bogota.
Uribe, for his part, said Duque has a “mixture of steadfastness and decency” that will serve him well in governing Colombia.
“I voted out of love for Colombia,” said Uribe, who governed from 2002-2010. “I voted for Ivan Duque due to his youth, intellectual lucidity, education, depth, democratic convictions, his security program, his respect for the law, the incentive (he offers) to the private sector, his (proposed) construction of equity, his willingness to achieve a grand social understanding in Colombia.”
Sunday’s presidential elections will be the first since the demobilization of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group and are taking place during an ongoing 101-day cease-fire declared by the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel group.