Weekend News / World

Colombians vote in presidential elections

By Marion V. Ali, Staff Reporter

Colombians are going to the polls in the first round of a presidential election widely thought to be a referendum on whether to continue peace talks with rebels.

President Juan Manuel Santos, who is seeking another four-year term, believes that negotiations with the Farc are the best way to end the country’s civil war.

His main rival, Oscar Zuluaga, a former cabinet colleague, says he wants to take a tougher line.

Mr Santos and Mr Zuluaga are running in a field of five candidates, but none of the other three has gained more than 10 percent in any opinion poll.

In a recent poll, Colombians listed their three main concerns as unemployment, health and security.

President Santos’s campaign has concentrated on the issue of security, namely the peace talks with the Farc, Colombia’s largest rebel group, which the president started in 2012. He has said he hopes to sign a peace treaty with left-wing rebels this year.

But Mr Zuluaga, has dismissed the talks as pandering to terrorists and suggested he would scrap them in favour of tougher military campaigns.

On May 16, the Colombian government and the Farc agreed that if a final peace deal can be reached, they would eliminate all illicit drug production in the country.

(Pic: AP/BBC World)

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