Colombia votes with FARC as political party for the first time

Ivan Duque presidential candidate of the party Centro Democratico gives a speech after finding out the results of the legislative election in Bogota

Ivan Duque presidential candidate of the party Centro Democratico gives a speech after finding out the results of the legislative election in Bogota

Ivan Duque, presidential candidate of the party Centro Democratico, gives a speech after finding out the results of the legislative election in Bogota, Colombia March 11, 2018.

The success of the conservative parties, which were opposed to the 2016 peace deal with the rebel group, raises questions about the future of the agreement.

Colombians also voted for candidates from the right-wing and leftist coalitions to represent them in May's presidential election.

Petro, a prominent leftist, former member of the disbanded M-19 guerrilla group and former mayor of Bogota, defeated Carlos Caicedo for their left-wing coalition's nomination, with 2.7 million votes and 96 percent of votes counted.

By contrast, numerous accord's critics picked up seats, with the Democratic Center party led by former President Alvaro Uribe headed to being the biggest bloc in the Senate. Colombians vote in the first round on May 27 with a likely runoff in June.

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos ordered the resumption of peace talks with ELN rebels Monday, March 12, aiming to conclude an historic deal before leaving office in August, despite election gains for hardliners who reject his policies.

Petro, 57, and his Colombia Humana party pledges to improve conditions for the poor, ban open pit mining and use clean energy.

Sunday's primaries - in which Duque won nearly 42 percent more votes than Petro did - were considered a better test of voter support than often inaccurate opinion polls, although some voters will have participated strategically and may not back either victor in the presidential vote.

Petro's Decencia coalition won just four Senate seats, and only two seats in the lower house.

Abbey Steele, a political science professor at the University of Amsterdam and author of a recent book on Colombia's conflict, said Sunday's results could have lasting implications on the peace process as some laws governing the accord's implementation have yet to be passed. The group is guaranteed 10 seats in the body through 2026 under the terms of the peace deal.

Petro said that despite the fact that right wing parties performed better in the legislative elections, his newly formed party has a good opportunity to win the presidential ones.

Radical Change, the party of former Vice President German Vargas Lleras, saw a surge in support and was on course to win 16 Senate seats.

Two candidates under pressure to join forces are Humberto de la Calle, who was the government's chief peace negotiator, and former Gov. Sergio Fajardo.

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