Colombia's Santos Plans to Restart Talks with ELN Rebels


A dismal showing by Colombia's left-wing Decencia coalition in legislative voting could bode poorly for its candidate, Gustavo Petro, in a looming presidential election, while in party primaries right-wing rival Ivan Duque scored a more emphatic victory.

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos ordered the resumption of peace talks with ELN rebels Monday, March 12, aiming to conclude an historic deal before leaving office in August, despite election gains for hardliners who reject his policies.

The report notes that the Democratic Center has the best chance to build a functioning coalition in Congress, given that the party secured the largest number of seats, and right-wing parties secured a total of about two-thirds of the seats.

Investors have been uneasy over possibility of Petro, a former member of the disbanded M-19 guerrilla group and ex-mayor of Bogota, winning the presidency as he has been running neck and neck with Duque in opinion polls. Although it seems unlikely the group will return to war, many Colombians are unwilling to move on.

Local media reported that just over 41 percent of eligible voters participated in Sunday's election.

The group will, however, have candidates in Sunday's congressional election, its first outing as an unarmed political party, after it demobilized under a 2016 peace deal with the government.

Finally, Almagro reiterated the unbreakable commitment of the hemispheric organization to continue to accompany social and institutional efforts to build peace through the Mission to Support the Peace Process (MAPP/OAS), which is celebrating 14 years of uninterrupted work in the most isolated territories and those most affected by armed violence in Colombia.

"We will advance with prudence, firmness and perseverance until we agree on the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of the ELN, that is, complete peace".

The peso COP = STFX strengthened 0.67 percent against the dollar to 2,851 and local Treasury bonds rose to yield 6.238 percent from Friday's close of 6.278 percent. That means their political party will get only the 10 seats guaranteed them by the peace accord.

They both favor improvements to infrastructure and tax cuts for businesses, though Fajardo is considered left-leaning.

Radical Change, the party of former Vice President German Vargas Lleras, saw a surge in support and was on course to win 16 Senate seats.

Left-wing candidates, including the Liberals' Humberto de la Calle, who was the government's head negotiator at the FARC talks, say negotiations are positive but not a panacea.



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