Photo: Elections in Colombia
Colombia is holding its presidential election on Sunday, with five candidates, including incumbent Juan Manuel Santos, vying to win the nation’s highest office.
The South American country’s 10,642 polling places opened at 8:00 a.m. and will close at 4:00 p.m.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and the smaller National Liberation Army, or ELN, guerrilla groups declared a cease-fire on May 20 that will be in effect until May 28 to allow people to vote in a peaceful atmosphere.
“My call is for Colombians to vote, to go vote early, to participate, for this to strengthen our democracy, our institutions and, irrespective of who wins, that this country continues on the right path and finds the much-desired peace,” the president said after casting his ballot in Bogota.
Santos is the candidate of the National Unity coalition, which is made up of the Partido de la U, the Liberal party and the Radical Change party.
“Today is a very important day for Colombia, for our democracy,” Santos said, adding that citizens will decide “who should lead the country over the next four years.”
The other presidential candidates are Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, of the Democratic Center movement; Clara Lopez, of the leftist Alternative Democratic Pole party; Marta Lucia Ramirez, of the Conservative party; and Enrique Peñalosa, of the Green Alliance.
The latest polls, which were conducted a week ago, showed Santos and Zuluaga tied for first place among likely voters.
About 90 percent of the ballots are expected to be counted by 7:00 p.m., election officials said.
A runoff will be held on June 15 between the two top vote-getters if no candidate wins a majority on Sunday.