Conservative wins Colombia’s presidency


Associated Press

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA

Ivan Duque, the young conservative protege of a powerful former president, was elected Colombia’s next leader Sunday after promising to roll back a fragile peace accord that has divided the South American nation.

Duque captured almost 54 percent of the vote, putting him 12 points ahead of former leftist guerrilla Gustavo Petro in a tense runoff election that had appeared to be tightening in recent days.

In the end, the prematurely graying 41-year-old sailed to victory, promising to change parts of the accord with leftist rebels but not “shred it to pieces” as some of his hawkish allies had been urging.

When he takes office in August, he will be Colombia’s youngest president in more than a century.

“I’ve come here to fulfill a dream,” Duque said outside his polling center. “For Colombia to be governed by a new generation, one that wants to govern for all and with. One that unites the country and turns the page on corruption.”

The new president will inherit a country still scarred by five decades of bloody armed conflict and grappling with soaring cocaine production.

Former guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia are struggling to reinsert themselves in civilian life in a nation where many people remain hesitant to forgive. Vast swaths of remote territory remain under the control of violent drug mafias and residual rebel bands.

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