World Media

Colombia's Farc fails to win single seat in congressional elections


Despite serious allegations of electoral fraud during Sunday's legislative elections and interparty primaries, Colombia's leftist presidential hopeful and former mayor of Bogota Gustavo Petro is confident he will win the next presidential elections on May 27.

While all candidates advocate clamping down on corruption and investment in education and health, the two top pollers differ in their views on a peace deal with Marxist FARC rebels.

Known by his nom de guerre Timochenko, Londono had been the FARC's bet to replace President Juan Manuel Santos when the latter leaves office in August, but heart surgery on Wednesday has put him out of the race.

However, with the scars of half a century of civil war still raw, Colombians widely shunned the former guerrillas' candidates, instead favouring right-wingers who campaigned on an anti-Farc platform. He acknowledges talks are unpopular and has slammed the group for its attacks on the armed forces.

It had expressed concern about the safety of its candidates, after many were pelted on the campaign trail with tomatoes, bottles and eggs by angry protesters.

Marquez said the group was open to backing a presidential candidate from a different party if that person supports the peace deal.

But with Petro's Decencia winning only 1.7 percent of the vote in the country's House of Representatives and 3.4 percent in the Senate, the left-wing candidate would have a hard time dealing with a right-leaning congress if he wins the presidential elections. "That said, the uncertainty surrounding the future of the peace agreement could be enough to moderate any recovery in financial markets if Duque's rise in the polls continues in the coming weeks", analysts said.

Ivan Marquez and Carlos Antonio Lozada of the political party of the FARC speak during a news conference in Bogota, Colombia March 8, 2018.

During the coalitions' primaries his left-wing coalition received more votes than the right-wing coalition in eight departments of the Colombian Caribbean, with 103 advantage points. He spent most of his 64 years as a military commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (or Farc), plotting the violent overthrow of the country's government.

The choice to back candidates until now best known by Colombians for gun battles, kidnapping for ransom and setting land mines, is seen by many as a missed opportunity for the FARC to reinvent itself.

“Now we've signed peace, the principal problem is corruption, ” 34-year-old construction worker Alvaro Jaimes said before voting in Bogota.

The group could possibly still win support from poor, rural communities which lack good roads, schools and basic services.