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Colombia: Ex-guerrilla Petro leads presidential primaries

March 14, 2022

The 61-year-old emerged as the top presidential candidate for the leftist Historical Pact coalition. He will compete with other candidates in the election to be held in May.

 Gustavo Petro speaks during an event at the Journalist Park in Bogota, Colombia on March 04, 2022
Petro had lost to current President Ivan Duque in the 2018 electionsImage: Juancho Torres/AA/picture alliance

Ex-guerilla Gustavo Petro emerged as the top presidential candidate for Colombia's upcoming elections following nationwide primaries on Sunday. 

Colombians voted for a new Congress, as well as in presidential primaries to choose candidates for presidential elections to be held in May this year. 

Petro won the primary for the Historical Pact, a coalition of left-wing parties. The coalition is set to win 17 of the 102 seats in the upper house, according to electoral authority figures. 

Who are the other presidential candidates?

Other contenders in the running were centrist Sergio Fajardo and right-wing Federico Gutierrez, both former mayors of Colombia's second-largest city Medellin. They are both leaders of their respective coalitions. 

In the Historic Pact primary, Petro won more than 80%  of around 3.5 million votes, with around 80% of precincts reporting. Gutierrez won more than 54% of the right wing coalition. Fajardo, a mathematician, won just fewer than 33% votes.

Current President Ivan Duque's right-wing Democratic Center party has already selected Oscar Ivan Zuluaga as its presidential candidate. Petro had lost to Duque in the second round of the 2018 presidential elections.

The contenders will compete, along with several other candidates picked by smaller parties, in Colombia's presidential election on May 29. If no single candidate receives 50% of the votes, a runoff ballot would be held in June between the top two finishers.

Voters also cast ballots for 108 senator and 187 lower house seats on Sunday. 

tg/wd  (AFP, AP, Reuters)