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Just a few hours before the closing of the polls in the first round of the Colombian presidential elections, the process is developing normally, except for some reports of delays in voting at polling stations located in the interior of the South American country.
On May 29, over 39 million Colombians are summoned to the polls to elect the president and vice president for the period 2022-2026. The candidates with the best chances of reaching the Presidency are Gustavo Petro (Historical Pact), Federico Gutierrez (Team for Colombia), and Rodolfo Hernandez (League of Anti-Corruption Rulers).
With much less citizen support, Sergio Fajardo (Hope Center Coalition), John Rodriguez (Fair Colombia, the Free Ones), and Enrique Gomez (National Salvation) also compete for the Presidency. Below are the main events of this democratic process as they happen.
4:00 PM (EST): Polls have now begun to close and results are starting to trickle in
Electoral authorities in Colombia say they aim to quickly give results of the count and that every 5 minutes they will provide information from pre-counted tables
3:00 PM (EST): Colombians living in Spain participated "massively" and "calmly" in the presidential elections in their country - Spanish media
Colombians living in Spain participated "massively" and "calmly" in the presidential elections in their country, where six candidates are competing this Sunday in a first-round for the Presidency of the Republic for the period 2022-2026.
Colombia's ambassador in Madrid, Luis Guillermo Plata, told EFE that the day was "very intense", but passed with "total tranquility" in order to exercise the right to vote, something he valued.
In Spain, voting took place throughout the week and until this Sunday in some 240 polling stations distributed in several cities and without incidents, according to the seven Colombian consulates.
2:30 PM (EST): Colombian Minister of Defense says that security conditions are in place for voting
The Colombian Minister of Defense, Diego Molano, said this Sunday that there are security conditions for Colombians to go to voting centers to vote in the presidential elections.
"We call on all Colombians to go out to vote the rest of the afternoon, the security and tranquility conditions are provided by our public forces", said the minister in a press conference.
To provide this security, 221,000 men were deployed throughout the country, Molano added, although he did not detail to which forces these troops belong.
The official added that only two arrests were made as a result of electoral crimes, one in the department of Nariño and the other in the department of Cauca, both in the southwest of the country.
From the cybernetic command post it is reported a normal development of the actions carried out for the security of the electoral day, said Molano.
Colombia votes this Sunday for president and vice president in elections in which more than 39 million citizens are eligible to vote.
Polling stations opened at 8:00 EST and will close at 16:00 EST; the first results, according to the national registrar, Alexander Vega, are expected before 20:00 this Sunday .
10h30: Petro affirms commitment to change. After voting at the Marco Carreño school in Bogota, Historical Pact candidate Gustavo Petro was optimistic about the results that he and his vice-presidential candidate Francia Marquez could achieve at the end of the day.
Besides emphasizing he trusts in the citizens' willingness to change, he recalled that Colombians are faced with two options: either let corruption, violence, and hunger continue to prevail, or lead Colombia towards peace, prosperity and democracy for the people.
Petro said that he will avoid early pronouncements since he will wait until 4:00 p.m. local time to observe the first count of the elections.
10h10: Candidate Fajardo asks to respect the electoral results. Sergio Fajardo urged Colombians to vote in peace and monitor the Civil Registry's work with "many eyes." He voted in Medellin accompanied by his partner, former Foreign Affairs Minister Maria Holguin.
"Let's vote in peace... we cannot continue where we are going. There is a social explosion, a deep social crisis... Never in my life have I seen Colombia as it is today," the former mayor of Medellin pointed out, acknowledging that there is a "mixture of fear, anger, disagreement, indignation, and sadness, which is very difficult to handle."
Fajardo asked that observers and juries do all their work, stressing that "you have to be very careful because a spark can ignite something we do not want or deserve."
BREAKING: The Registraduría of Colombia has refused to permit both the Pacto Histórico campaign and international auditors from verifying the vote counting software, citing "property rights" of the private corporation outsourced to conduct the count. pic.twitter.com/WuhvdNtwzA
08h10: Ivan Duque votes in Bolivar Square. After voting at a polling station in the National Capitol in Bogota, outgoing President Ivan Duque invited citizens to go to the polls with "enthusiasm, joy, and without hatred."
He was accompanied by Interior Minister Daniel Palacios, Civil Registry Director Alexander Vega, Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez, and Senate President Juan Gomez.
"We have one of the most solid democracies... because every four years we make an orderly transition, where power is ceded in peace and tranquility," Duque said in a speech that was surprising due to its little relation to reality.
His statements took place amid a political environment characterized by polarization between social forces, accusations of fraud, and threats against progressive candidates, who are the great favorites to reach the Presidency. In reaction to the elites' idealized vision of their country, Colombians took to social networks to harshly criticize the Duque regime.
During the Duque term there’s been a total of 219 massacres in 3 years, with a total of 836 victims. The number has likely gone up since. Colombia is fighting to rid itself from what many consider one of the most corrupt narco-governments in the world. pic.twitter.com/RlpP3GDmkl
"What democracy? They forget that drug traffickers bought the presidency for Duque in 2018. Today we go out to vote with fear because we don't trust the electoral system. In Colombia what exists is a CEOs' cracy," tweeted Simone, a Colombian physicist.
"That Duque recovered Colombia. What?? Please! Colombia had never been so bad. What Duque did was plunge the country into misery, return to the logic of war, and continue dividing the country among his mafia and corrupt friends. Read, please! Get informed!," writer Leandro Vinasco recalled.
"I vote in memory of the young people who lost their lives for Colombia," Marycela Ayala said, recalling the consequences of police brutality against citizens who criticized Duque's policies.
08h05: The Ombudsman's Office reports normalcy at the start of the elections. Colombia's Ombudsman Carlos Camargo announced that his institution is monitoring the electoral process with nearly 3,000 officials, public defenders, and contractors.
"The collaborators of the Ombudsman's Office will be present at polling stations, in temporary detention centers, prisons and penitentiary establishments, and in the unified command posts installed by authorities," he said.
“The day began with relative calm throughout the national territory. We will be present at all polling stations in the country from 7 a.m. until the end of the count. We invite all Colombians eligible to vote to go to the polls early,” Camargo added.
“We hope that the voting takes place in an environment of respect and tolerance so that Colombian democracy is strengthened. We call on all citizens to go to the polls and exercise their right to vote freely and without constraint or coercion.”
During the electoral process, the Ombudsman's Office will receive complaints, petitions, and reports directly at the polling stations and at its regional offices.
08h00: Citizens began to vote. The Colombian polling stations will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. to receive 39 million citizens at 102,152 polling stations installed throughout the country.
The Civil Registry, which is the institution in charge of organizing the elections, mentioned that a first consolidated result of the elections may be provided before 8:00 p.m. local time. This will allow citizens to know whether there will be a need for a second round between the two most voted candidates. In this scenario, the next electoral contest will take place on June 19.
To guarantee security in the elections, the Duque administration launched the "Democracy Plan", which involves both the Armed Forces and the Police.
On Saturday, the Army indicated that it would prioritize the surveillance of the subnational territories most affected by the armed conflict, among which are 50 municipalities in the departments of Antioquia, Arauca, Bolivar, Caqueta, Cauca, Choco, Cordoba, Tolima, Nariño, Norte de Santander, Putumayo, and Valle del Cauca.