News / Americas

Colombia Votes on Congress, Seen as Referendum on FARC Peace Talks

Presidential candidate Salvador Sanchez Ceren, who is also the current VP for the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), center, accompanied by his wife, center left, raises his ballot before casting it, El Salvador, March 9, 2014.Presidential candidate Salvador Sanchez Ceren, who is also the current VP for the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), center, accompanied by his wife, center left, raises his ballot before casting it, El Salvador, March 9, 2014.
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Presidential candidate Salvador Sanchez Ceren, who is also the current VP for the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), center, accompanied by his wife, center left, raises his ballot before casting it, El Salvador, March 9, 2014.
Presidential candidate Salvador Sanchez Ceren, who is also the current VP for the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), center, accompanied by his wife, center left, raises his ballot before casting it, El Salvador, March 9, 2014.
VOA News
Voters in El Salvador are choosing a new president Sunday, with pre-election polls favoring a former Marxist guerrilla in the runoff poll.

A victory by Salvador Sanchez Ceren of the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, the FMLN, would make him the first guerrilla commander to hold the presidency since a truce ended a devastating 13-year civil war in 1992.

Recent polling showed Ceren holding a 10 to 18-point lead over San Salvador Mayor Norman Quijano of the right-wing National Republican Alliance, known as ARENA.

Elsewhere, Colombians are choosing a new congress in a vote seen as a referendum on peace talks with leftist guerrillas and a likely bellwether for presidential elections in May.

Nearly 2,500 candidates are competing for a total of 268 seats in Colombia’s lower house and senate.

Sunday's election is expected to consolidate President Jose Manuel Santos as the front-runner for a second straight term in the upcoming presidential poll.  

A win would allow his government to continue talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, which have dominated national political life since they opened in late 2012 in Havana, Cuba.     

Both sides have agreed to allow the rebels to take part in national politics once the insurgency ends.

The FARC has been fighting for five decades against the Colombian government.  It partly finances the insurgency through drug trafficking and frequent kidnappings of foreigners and Colombian officials.

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