Colombia Holds Historic Congressional Elections Amid Rebel Truce

The eyes of the World are focused on a new Colombia.

Uribe was a vocal opponent of the 2016 peace deal.

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.

The group said attacks by the right wing, including protests at their events, were a further reason for pulling out of the presidential election.

The elections mark the debut of the former FARC rebels as a political party.

Abbey Steele, a political science professor at the University of Amsterdam and author of a recent book on Colombia's conflict, said Sunday's results could have lasting implications on the peace process as some laws governing the accord's implementation have yet to be passed.

As expected, the FARC performed poorly in the Sunday's election, garnering less than 0.4 percent of the vote for Senate and less than 0.3 percent in the lower house.

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Many Colombians will have voted strategically in the primaries, hoping to influence candidate selection for the presidential vote on May 27.

The Marxist group, now transformed into a political party called the Revolutionary Alternative Common Force, failed to take a single seat in congressional elections as it polled less than one per cent on a day where the big victor was a hard-right critic of the peace accords.

Though the FARC had many youthful and perhaps less controversial fighters in their ranks, its congressional hopefuls are largely grizzled ex-commanders, shorn of the beards they wore in rebel camps and wearing loafers instead of rubber boots.

"For many people it is hard to swallow Farc leaders campaigning on the streets", said Kristian Herbolzheimer, a Colombia specialist at Conciliation Resources, a London-based consultancy.

"We've had the most peaceful and transparent elections in half a century", he said.

The group could possibly still win support from poor, rural communities which lack good roads, schools and basic services.

After the interparty consultations held yesterday, the presidential list went from 11 to eight candidates to occupy the Casa de Nariño (government see).

FARC leaders have expressed fear of a systematic campaign to assassinate their members, as happened with other leftist movements in the country. The party said it would not seek a replacement.

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