Colombia election: Farc fails to win support in first national vote

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Former president Álvaro Uribe's party won the most seats - while its presidential contender Iván Duque, right, secured his candidacy

Colombia's conservative parties, which oppose the 2016 peace deal with Farc rebels, have won most votes in the country's elections.

Sunday's vote was the first in which the former left-wing guerrillas, now a political party, took part.

The Democratic Centre party of ex-president Álvaro Uribe's won most seats but fell well short of a majority.

The Farc performed poorly, as expected, but is guaranteed seats by the agreement.

It received just 0.5% of the total number of votes - but will receive five seats in each of the two chambers of parliament.

Polling was reported to be peaceful. In previous years it has sometimes been marred by violence.

The right-wing parties performed best, but still fell short of an overall majority.

Analysis: Farc's uncertain future

Katy Watson, South America correspondent, Sao Paulo

The Farc was never expected to win lots of seats - they had plenty of critics who felt it was too soon for the former guerrilla fighters to be running for Congress.

But these results just underline that no matter how much influence they used to exert over the country during the conflict, now they've laid down their weapons, their power has all but disappeared.

The congressional vote was seen as a test for President Juan Manuel Santos - his government had been criticised for what many feel was a peace deal that was too lenient towards the Farc.

These elections have strengthened the hand of the right-wing parties ahead of the presidential vote in May so the future role of these political newcomers is uncertain.

The Democratic Centre emerged as the largest party, with 19 seats in the Senate, and 33 in the lower house of representatives.

But the results were fragmented, with no party achieving more than 16% of the vote. The three largest conservative parties together have won 50 of the Senate's 102 seats.

But the strong performance of Mr Uribe's party is indicative of the divided attitudes in the country.

Correspondents say the results do not mean that the deal will be reversed, but its implementation could be delayed.

The five decades of conflict between the Farc and Colombia's government killed more than 220,000 people.

Many Colombians felt that the ex-rebels should have been held accountable for crimes rather than given political influence.

Also on Sunday, Colombians selected candidates in the presidential primary elections, choosing those who will vie to replace the architect of the peace process, President Santos.

Media caption,
Colombian President Santos: "The US has not understood the strategic importance of Latin America"

Iván Duque was selected for the right-wing coalition, while Gustavo Petro won the nomination for the left.

The pair will contest a first round of elections in late May alongside several other candidates, with the victor chosen in June. President Santos's term expires in August.

Mr Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016 for his efforts on the peace agreement.

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