Colombia peace deal backers suffer in Congress elections

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But Santos is ineligible for reelection in May's presidential vote and with his critics bolstered by Sunday's results, it is unsure exactly what peace will look like when he leaves office.

The elections will include two presidential primaries: one for leftist candidates and another for candidates backed by conservative movements.

Duque, 41, supported by former President Alvaro Uribe and his Democratic Center party, backs foreign investment and an aggressive security strategy meant to combat Colombia's remaining rebel group, which regularly kidnaps and bombs oil pipelines.

Petro's promise of a "social economy" that would raise taxes and shift away from oil, Colombia's top export, towards agriculture has anxious investors in the Andean nation as opinion polls showed the former member of the disbanded M-19 guerrilla group and ex-mayor of Bogota running ahead of Duque.

Casting a shadow over the FARC's political ambitions is the recent decision to withdraw its candidate from the presidential race for health reasons.

The Marxist group, now transformed into a political party called the Revolutionary Alternative Common Force, failed to take a single seat in congressional elections as it polled less than one per cent on a day where the big victor was a hard-right critic of the peace accords.

Santos, who signed the peace agreement with the FARC in November 2016, is stepping down as president in August after two terms. He is in favor of the peace deal and is proposing a "social economy" for Colombia with increased taxes for the rich.

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The polls serve as a preview for presidential elections in May, and a strong right-wing showing could put the peace deal at risk.

More than 6 million votes were cast in the three-way right-wing primary and 3.5 million in the two-way left-wing contest. "The presidential campaign starts today". Memories of when they were the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.the FARC, have NOT faded.

Candidates were mobbed by angry crowds at rallies and the party had to cancel its public meetings. "It's the first time in my life that I have voted and I doing so for the sake of peace".

Catatumbo, along with nine of his former comrades, is guaranteed a non-voting seat in Colombia's congress as part of the controversial peace deal that initially failed to pass a referendum.

"There are no big changes, there are adjustments", Frederic Masse, an expert in armed conflict and the peace process at Externado University, told AFP. While no party came close to winning control of either legislature, the Democratic Center party came out on top in the Senate, with 19 seats and second in the lower house, with 32 seats.

In 1964, FARC rebels launched an insurgency against the Colombian state in response to the government's brutal suppression of a peasant uprising. "And now we're going to allow these people manage us knowing that they have left us so many tragedies?" she said.

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