| 26 January 2023, Thursday |

Colombians vote in presidential primaries, legislative contest

Colombians will go to the polls on Sunday to elect members of Congress and vote in one of three presidential primaries for candidates from the right, left, and center-left coalitions.

Seats in the country’s legislature of 108 senators and 187 lower house representatives have been won by a variety of parties in recent elections, forcing presidents to form broad coalitions in order to pass legislation.

Voters in the right-wing coalition’s primary, which will take place ahead of the first round of presidential voting in May, will be able to choose between five pre-candidates, including former mayors of Medellin, Barranquilla, and Bogota, Federico Gutierrez, Alex Char, and Enrique Penalosa.

A left-wing coalition will also ask supporters to vote for one of five candidates, though polls indicate that Gustavo Petro – a former mayor of Bogota who lost to current President Ivan Duque in the 2018 presidential election – will win.

Sergio Fajardo, a mathematician and former mayor and governor, is the favorite to win the nomination of a centrist coalition.

Duque’s right-wing Democratic Center party has already selected Oscar Ivan Zuluaga as its presidential candidate.

Residents of 167 municipalities in provinces like Arauca, Choco, Norte de Santander and Cauca, which have been most affected by the conflict will choose 16 representatives who are survivors.

Their seats – in place for two legislative terms – were agreed under a 2016 peace deal between the government and the now-demobilized FARC guerrillas.

Colombia’s conflict has left some 260,000 dead and displaced millions.

Authorities in the Andean country have promised to ensure voter safety and protect electoral technology from cyber-attacks.

  • Reuters