Duque Colombia’s president elect promises unity

Colombia’s President-elect Ivan Duque, who swept aside leftist Gustavo Petro in Sunday’s election, pledged to unite his South American nation after a divisive campaign.

However, he  insisted he would change a landmark peace accord with leftist rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) .

Duque’s decisive victory in Sunday’s poll, with 54 percent of votes to Petro’s 42 percent, is likely to reassure investors in Latin America’s fourth-largest economy who were alarmed by the leftist candidate’s promise to overturn Colombia’s orthodox economic model.

Yet, in the first presidential election since the 2016 peace deal with FARC, Duque worried Colombians with a promise to overhaul the accord that ended a five-decade conflict which killed more than 220,000 people and displaced millions. He has promised to impose tougher punishments on rebels for war crimes.

Surrounded by friends and family, Duque thanked voters for handing him the biggest electoral victory in Colombia’s history based on number of votes received. He struck a conciliatory tone, calling for the nation of more than 50 million people to unite behind him after a polarising campaign.

“With humility and honour, I tell the Colombian people that I will give all my energies to unite our country. No more divisions,” Duque told a crowd of cheering supporters in Bogota.

Duque, 41, the business friendly protégé of hardline former President Alvaro Uribe, has promised to toughen the peace deal while keeping Colombia’s business friendly economic policies intact.

By contrast, former guerrilla Petro had pledged to take on political elites, redistribute land to the poor and gradually eliminate the need for oil and coal in Latin America’s fourth-largest economy. His positions prompted critics to compare him to Venezuela’s former socialist President Hugo Chavez. (NAN)

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