OAS Congratulates Government of Colombia and ELN on Resuming Peace Talks

Colombian elections fuel hope for a peaceful future

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos ordered the resumption of peace talks with ELN rebels Monday, March 12, aiming to conclude an historic deal before leaving office in August, despite election gains for hardliners who reject his policies.

Petro's promise of a "social economy" that would raise taxes and shift away from oil, Colombia's top export, towards agriculture has anxious investors in the Andean nation as opinion polls showed the former member of the disbanded M-19 guerrilla group and ex-mayor of Bogota running ahead of Duque.

Duque, a protégé of former President Alvaro Uribe and the standard bearer for the Democratic Center party, beat fellow candidates Marta Lucia Ramirez and Alejandro Ordonez for his coalition's nomination. Before receiving Uribe's backing, Duque was unknown to most Colombians.

In the latest opinion polls, Duque trails the leftist candidate Gustavo Petro within the margin of error.

Duque and Petro are among several other candidates running for the presidency, including former mayor of Medellin Sergio Fajardo and ex-vice president German Vargas Lleras.

Supporters of 57-year-old Petro's Colombia Humana party highlight his work to improve conditions for the poor. And investors have been wary of Petro's promise to create a "social economy" that would shift away from oil, Colombia's top export, toward agriculture.

More than 6 million votes were cast in the three-way right-wing primary and 3.5 million in the two-way left-wing contest.

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As expected, the FARC performed poorly in the Sunday's election, garnering less than 0.4 percent of the vote for Senate and less than 0.3 percent in the lower house.

The FARC is guaranteed five seats in both the 108-member Senate and the 172-member lower house under the terms of the accord.

Voters, analysts and even Santos himself have scoffed at the group's decision to keep its infamous Spanish acronym for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia by naming its political party the Revolutionary Alternative Common Force.

The group's presidential candidate withdrew from the race last week due to ill health and the party is not naming a replacement.

The Colombian government will resume peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group, according to a statement released by Casa de Nari?o.

"It's important that they're now not at war, but really they won't have much impact on elections", analyst Juan Carlos Palou said."And anyway they don't have any attractive or innovative ideas".

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