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Zuluaga Wins First Round Of Colombia Election

By Expert Author: jareldaren

Bogota, Colombia - Oscar Zuluaga, a far-right candidate who opposes peace talks with leftist rebels, has won the initially round of Colombia&rsquos presidential election with extra than 29 percent of the vote.

He will face existing President Juan Manuel Santos, who took 25 percent of Sunday's vote, in a run-off election on June 15 as neither of the rightist candidates was capable to safe a majority in the very first round.

Thirty-three million Colombians have been registered to vote and turnout was low, significantly less than 41 percent.

International observers from UNASUR, the Union of South American Nations, said the vote was "properly organised" and security had "been guaranteed".

Zuluaga and Santos share the exact same tips on financial policy, but disagree sharply on the prospect of peace with FARC rebels. Negotiations came to be the defining situation of a campaign marked by scandals from each top camps.

Santos has been negotiating with the guerrillas in Cuba to end Colombia's long-running civil conflict which has claimed additional than 215,000 lives. Zuluaga, following in the footsteps of his key backer, former difficult-line President Alvaro Uribe, doesn't believe in the talks, favouring a military remedy as an alternative.

"We have the opportunity to produce a distinctive Colombia," Zuluaga posted on Twitter, thanking voters for their support.

A 'relative unknown'

Lena Sanchez Rodriguez, who cast her ballot in Bogota's key square, said she wasn't pleased with Santos' record on security. "The office of the president has gotten weaker in the final 4 years," she told Al Jazeera. "Santos doesn't have a robust enough hand to deal with delinquents. Security has gotten worse in Bogota and I do not think in the peace course of action."

Mariana Giraldo, an accountant voting in a operating class district of the capital, stated she supported Santos for the reason that she believes a peace deal with FARC guerrillas is achievable.

"My life has gotten much better economically in the last 5 years," she told Al Jazeera. "If there was a peace deal, we would have far more diplomatic agreements with other countries and it would be much easier to travel."

Two months ago, pollsters predicted an easy victory for Santos, as Colombia's economy has grown rapidly. Zuluaga was a relative unknown before Uribe's assistance thrust him into the national spotlight.

Uribe, who ruled for two terms, remains a preferred and divisive figure for his harsh techniques in the counterinsurgency campaign and alleged links to far-suitable paramilitary groups. It remains unclear if his influence and economic clout will be adequate to push Zuluaga into the presidential palace, as three other candidates all garnered substantial help and could potentially back Santos in the runoff.

Marta Lucia Ramirez, a conservative businesswoman, and leftist Clara Lopez each and every won additional than 15 percent of the vote. Former Bogota mayor Enrique Penalosa took significantly less than eight % of the vote in a poorer than expected showing.

Ramirez, in unique, is probably to be courted by the two leading candidates ahead of the runoff, as lots of voters rejected the status quo.

"We will need to have some changes right here," Emma Julia Albarracin told Al Jazeera just after casting her ballot in central Bogota.

"We have had too lots of terrible governments that permitted corruption to come about," she said, adding that "We do not expect important alterations."

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