President-elect Ivan Duque appealed for unity after winning a runoff election over a leftist firebrand whose ascent shook Colombia’s political establishment and laid bare deep divisions over the nation’s peace process. The conservative Duque, the protege of a powerful former president, was elected Sunday with 54 percent of the vote. He finished more than 12 points ahead of former guerrilla Gustavo Petro, though the runner-up’s performance at the ballot box was the best ever for the left in one of Latin America’s most conservative nations.
When Duque takes office in August at age 42, he will be Colombia’s youngest president in more than a century and in his first remarks as president-elect he vowed to work tirelessly to heal divisions and govern on behalf of all Colombians. He also promised a frontal attack on corruption while addressing a surge in cocaine production that he called a threat to national security.
“This is the opportunity that we have been waiting for — to turn the page on the politics of polarization, insults and venom,” Duque told jubilant supporters Sunday night, joined by his young family.
The election was the first since outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos signed the 2016 peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the race ultimately ended up being defined by the divisive accord.