Colombia’s presidential candidates participated in their final debate Thursday ahead of the first round of the presidential election scheduled to take place on May 27. The policies of Ivan Duque of the Democratic Center and Gustavo Petro of Humane Colombia came into sharp focus as the candidates debated peace, impunity, electoral fraud and the fight against corruption in the South American.
Joining Duque and Petro, who are running first and second respectively in most polls, were Sergio Fajardo of the Colombia Coalition, Humberto de la Calle of the Liberal Party, and German Vargas of the Better Vargas Lleras movement.
De la Calle once again reiterated his commitment to implement the peace accords signed between the Colombian government and the now disarmed Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and called on other candidates to do the same and “not return to conflict,” while Petro reaffirmed his commitment to the construction of social equity.
Duque said it was necessary for Colombia to confront corruption and “end with the house for jail and reduction of sentences as benefits for the corrupt,” while Fajardo reminded citizens that corruption and bribery and their links to Colombian politics were a critical issue.
Regarding the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP, its Spanish acronym), a central element of the Peace Accords signed in Havana, all candidates exception Duque stated that the agreement should be implemented as is. De la Calle, who represented the government as its chief negotiator in talks with the FARC, rejected the idea of renegotiating the accords pushing back against Duque's proposed changes.
Petro, who is the leading progressive candidate of the election, chastised the government for failing to update the population regularly on the implementation of the Peace Accords.
On corruption, Duque said that delinquency is also corruption and that he will empower citizens to file legal complaints, Fajardo noted: “corruption reaches power through politics.”
Petro argued one cannot lead a fight against corruption if the person is elected by a corrupt electoral system and said the country's antiquated electoral system was in need of reform.
Petro has denounced the country's electoral system on many occasions citing the irregularities, a lack of guarantee and issues related to vote-buying.
Vargas Lleras said he believes the electoral process is transparent and that it offers "all the elements and guarantees" for Sunday's elections.
According to all polls, none of the candidates have enough votes to win the presidency in the first round, and Duque and Petro are the most likely candidate to make it to the second round of elections scheduled of June 17.