December 12, 2017


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Candidates in Colombia’s May 25 presidential polls

BOGOTA — Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos is running for a second term in a May 25 election. Polls show he will likely be the biggest vote-getter. But Santos is seen probably falling short of a winning a majority of votes, meaning he would go into a run-off election. Here are the main candidates and their policies:

Juan Manuel Santos

The president opened peace talks with FARC rebels and his legacy may hinge on the outcome of the negotiations. The 18-month-old talks have produced partial agreements on two of the five points on the agenda.

Santos has promised to implement judicial reforms and to strike back at criminal gangs during his second term, as well as break down barriers to housing and education. He has also said he will continue to reduce unemployment.

Born into one of Colombia’s most powerful families, Santos, 62, is a consummate political insider. His great-uncle, Eduardo Santos, served as president. A cousin was a vice-president.

Trained as an economist in the United States and the United Kingdom, Santos has published several books.

Santos held several ministerial positions before taking office in 2010. As defence minister under former President Álvaro Uribe, he oversaw the military campaign that largely drove the FARC, into remote regions.

Oscar Iván Zuluaga

Zuluaga, who represents former President Alvaro Uribe’s new Democratic Centre party, is against peace negotiations with FARC rebels while they are still in arms.

He served as finance minister during the Uribe’s administration.

Among policies that Zuluaga is campaigning on are a return to Uribe’s “democratic security” defence strategy, when the government stepped up attacks on guerrillas with US backing.

Before becoming finance minister, Zuluaga served as an adviser to Uribe and as a senator. He stuied economics in the United Kingdom.

Enrique Peñaloza

A former mayor of Colombia’s capital Bogotá, he is a contender for the centre-left Green Alliance party, was lauded for the transportation changes he spearheaded as mayor, expanding bike paths and beginning construction on the city’s mass-transit bus system.

The 59-year-old Duke University alumnus, born in the United States, has delivered lectures on urban sustainability at conferences around the world.

Peñalosa has said he would continue FARC peace talks. The negotiations should “transcend” governments, Peñalosa told reporters in a recent interview.

Marta Lucía Ramírez

Ramirez, who also served as defence minister under ex-president Uribe, is polling in single digits, but her voters could prove king-makers in the second round.

As Uribe’s first defence minister, she helped design the security policy which over the years has severely weakened leftist guerrillas with backing from the United States.

Clara López

The left-wing López, running on the Democratic Pole ticket, was appointed by Santos as interim mayor of Bogotá in 2011, after a corruption scandal ousted the elected mayor.

López, who says she would seek a bilateral ceasefire to accompany FARC peace negotiations, is polling in single digits, but could rally her supporters to lend their votes to a second round candidate.

Herald with Reuters

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