Santos re-elected in Colombia, tells FARC it’s time for peace
BOGOTA - Reuters
Juan Manuel Santos shows the palm of his hand reading ‘Peace’ as he celebrates the results of election. AFP PhotoPresident Juan Manuel Santos vowed to bring peace to Colombia after winning re-election on June 15, telling rebels his victory shows that voters demand an end to five decades of war.
Santos, a center-rightist who has staked his reputation on securing a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), won almost 51 percent support in the runoff election. His right-wing rival Oscar Ivan Zuluaga trailed with 45 percent.
The election divided Colombia between voters who support a deal to end Latin America’s longest-running insurgency and Zuluaga’s backers who want to force the militants into a battlefield surrender. “This is the end of more than 50 years of violence and the start of a new Colombia,” Santos said after his election victory, holding up a hand daubed with the word “peace” and wearing a trademark pin of a white dove on his lapel. “A Colombia at peace with itself.” Santos opened talks with the FARC in late 2012.
Last week, Santos also revealed preliminary talks with a smaller militant group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), and he said on June 15 the Colombian people were now insisting on peace.
“The demand is not just for the government. Today’s message is for the FARC and the ELN and it’s a clear message - this is the end,” the center-right president said surrounded by family.
He will start his second four-year term on Aug. 7.