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ELN Says Ready to Resume Peace Talks with Colombian Gov't

13 March 2018

March 12, 2018 The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, today welcomed the decision of the government of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to resume peace talks with the ELN guerilla in Quito, that had been suspended in January.

Right-wing parties opposed to a peace deal with leftist FARC former rebels were leading Colombia's legislative elections but falling short of a majority in Congress, partial results showed this morning.

Without giving figures, Santos also hailed "massive participation" in the election, in a country where abstentionism traditionally runs at around 60 per cent.

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Gustavo Petro, a former Bogota mayor who is seeking to become conservative Colombia's first leftist president, will oppose him after winning almost two million votes, 85 per cent of the poll, in his primary.

Local media reported that just over 41 percent of eligible voters participated in Sunday's election.

The FARC, which signed a peace pact with the government 15 months ago, is assured 10 congressional seats, five in the Senate and five in the Chamber of Representatives, as part of its peace agreement with the government, but could garner more depending on the number of votes the party gets.

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Meanwhile, the public prosecutor's office said it would open an investigation into why electoral officials ran out of ballot papers for the party primaries. Patriotic Union, a political party founded by the FARC and Colombian Communist Party in the 1980s, was decimated by a campaign of violent attacks and assassinations blamed on right-wing death squads and drug lords.

The FARC's Jorge Torres Victoria, who fought under the name "Pablo Catatumbo", was voting for the first time in his life, and hoping to win a Senate seat. "It is very important for our democracy, and that is what the peace process was about", said Santos.

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