Carlos Fernando Galán speaks with the press after voting in the local and regional elections October 29, 2023, in Bogotá (Colombia). T(JAL). EFE/ Natalia Pedraza Bravo

Colombia’s Petro vows to work with new opposition leaders after U-turn in polls

Bogotá, Oct 29 (EFE).- Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro congratulated the winners of the country’s regional elections on Sunday and promised cooperation as the results showed a loss of support for the ruling party and a return to traditional politics.

“I congratulate all the leaders and representatives elected today. We will work to articulate their campaign proposals so that we can jointly build a country that combats corruption, injustice and faces the climate change crisis,” Petro said in an address following the results of the election of mayors, governors and regional lawmakers.

The polls that brought him to power last year swung back to favor the majority traditional parties and the opposition, and in addition, the ruling party lost Bogotá, a city that Petro governed and which has been the party’s stronghold.

In the capital, former senator Carlos Fernando Galán of New Liberalism, a party founded by his father Luis Carlos Galán Sarmiento who was murdered by drug trafficking mafia in 1989 when he was the favorite to win the presidency, won the mayoralship comfortably, averting a second round.

The candidate of the ruling Historical Pact, former senator Gustavo Bolívar, was relegated to third place with 571,591 votes.

“Today democracy spoke out and it is our duty as rulers to abide and respect the voice of the people. The basis of peace, the basis of transparency and democracy is in the power to choose and be elected,” said Petro.

The president added that he will meet in the coming days with the elected officials to articulate the regional plans with the government’s National Development Plan.

Beyond the result, he highlighted that “the Colombian people voted in peace” in an election where 20,137 popularly elected positions have been decided.

“The capacity of the public force and the progress in peace guaranteed a peaceful day and where Colombians from rural and remote areas were able to go out to vote without the threat of armed and criminal organizations,” highlighted the president.

On Saturday in Gamarra, a town in the department of Cesar, an official from the Registry Office, identified as Duperly Arévalo Carrascal, died after a mob set fire to the office of that entity, in charge of organizing the elections, in protest against the disqualification of a candidate.

Petro asked that “the causes of this conflict that ended in death be clarified.”

In addition, he reported that during the day 92 people were arrested for possible electoral crimes, and more than 8,850 complaints of “inappropriate conduct” have been received. EFE