FILE - This combination of two file photos shows Colombian presidential candidates Gustavo Petro, left, and Ivan Duque, both in Bogota, Colombia. Colombian voters head to the polls May 27, 2018. For the first time in Colombia’s recent history voters
FILE - This combination of two file photos shows Colombian presidential candidates Gustavo Petro, left, and Ivan Duque, both in Bogota, Colombia. Colombian voters head to the polls May 27, 2018. For the first time in Colombia’s recent history voters

Colombia's contentious but peaceful presidential election appears headed for a runoff between a leftist former rebel and a conservative who wants to rewrite the peace deal with the rebels.

With nearly all the votes counted, conservative former Senator Ivan Duque is expected to finish far out in front with 39 percent, followed by left-wing Gustavo Petro with 25 percent.

But no candidate will finish with the 50 percent needed to avoid a June 17 runoff.

Election officials say the voting was "normal" with a high turnout in some of the larger cities.

Sunday's election was the first since Colombia signed a peace deal with Marxist FARC rebels in 2016. The agreement put an official end to more than 50 years of a guerilla uprising that killed more than 220,000 people.

The former rebels have given up their weapons and FARC has transformed itself into a political party, looking for seats in congress.

The right-leaning Duque campaigned on promises to rewrite the peace agreement with FARC, calling it too lenient. He says former guerilla commanders belong in jail, not congress.

Duque is also pro-business, promising to cut corporate taxes as one way to stimulate the economy.

Petro is a former member of the defunct M19 rebel group and a supporter of the peace deal with FARC.

His promises to overhaul the economy, redistribute wealth and steer Colombia away from fossil fuels to renewable energy have endeared himself to the working class but shaken up the elite.

Petro will be the first genuine leftist candidate to make it to the second round of a Colombian presidential election.

The new president will succeed Juan Manuel Santos, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for the deal with FARC.  

 

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