Article

Columbia president-elect promises unity

379 views

Iván Duque, the conservative political newcomer who was elected as Colombia’s president on Sunday, says he wants to unite the Andean country.

Mr Duque spoke of mending the fissures which had opened up in Colombia after a divisive election campaign.

But he also said he wants to see changes to the historic but controversial peace deal agreed with Farc rebels in 2016.

Mr Duque beat his left-wing rival, Gustavo Petro, by 12 percentage points.

He received 54% of the vote in Sunday’s run-off election.

The 41-year-old candidate for the Democratic Centre party says he will overhaul the agreement that guaranteed the rebels seats in Congress and allowed them to contest elections.

He also says he will impose tougher punishments on crimes allegedly committed by the rebels during the brutal five-decade conflict with the government.

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

“I will not govern with hatred.”

Mr Duque is viewed as the business-friendly choice because he wants to cut taxes and boost investment, raising money by shrinking the state.

His running mate, Marta Lucía Ramirez, will become Colombia’s first female vice-president.

Voters in the country were presented with a stark choice between Mr Duque and the leftist ex-guerrilla Gustavo Petro.

Mr Petro’s campaign featured promises about creating a more equal society and ensuring people have access to health and education.

He also pledged to take on political elites and redistribute land to the poor.

But the former Bogotá mayor, who supports the peace deal, accepted defeat on Sunday evening.

“Eight million free Colombians taking a stand. There is no defeat here. For now we won’t be the government,” he said on Twitter.