One week before the presidential elections in Colombia, the campaign is tense in the final stretch. This Sunday the candidates end their speeches in the public square, hunting for the undecided in a more polarized environment.

Threats of death that revive the ghosts of the assassination in the country, distrust in the electoral system and the rebound in violence in remote areas are heating up the spirits on the eve of the elections next Sunday.

Opposition senator Gustavo Petro, a 62-year-old former guerrilla fighter and former mayor of Bogotá, continues to lead the polls (41%), although not with enough support to avoid a ballot on June 19. If it wins, it would be the first time the left has seized power in a country historically ruled by conservative and liberal elites.

In a possible second round, the polls foresee a duel between Petro and the right-wing Federico Gutiérrez, 47-year-old former mayor of Medellín, with about 27% of the voting intention, although closely followed by an outsider: the independent businessman Rodolfo Hernández, 77 years old and impossible to place on the political spectrum. Franco-Colombian candidate Ingrid Betancourt, a former hostage of the former FARC, joined her campaign on Friday.

Very active and eloquent in the public square, Petro closes his campaign this Sunday in the center of Bogotá next to the mayor’s office that he occupied between 2012 and 2015. His vice-presidential candidate, the African environmentalist Francia Márquez, will accompany him on stage. . It will be his hundredth speech since August and the opportunity to reaffirm a promise to "change" no revenge, "for all Colombians" stop "political hatred in society"depending on the candidate’s team.

"phyco" Gutiérrez will hold a rally the same day in Medellín (northwest), his birthplace and the country’s second largest city. After calling against "the communists" what do they want "expropriate" Y "do away with institutions"the leader of the right-wing coalition "Team for Colombia" invites us to unite in the midst of polarization and to fight against "unsafety".

shadow of fraud

The campaign was marked for threats against the main candidates. Petro had to strengthen his security scheme and now he speaks in public with a bulletproof vest and protected by a fence of armored shields. Saturday night a green laser was pointed at Francia Márquez while giving a speech in Bogotá that activated his bodyguards and forced the rally to be cancelled. The prosecution is investigating the incident.

Gutierrez too denounced intimidations that, added to a climate made rare by the violencearouses fear of assassination in a country where five presidential candidates were assassinated in the 20th century.

Another controversy gains strength in the last stretch of the campaign, fueled by distrust in the electoral process that had a run-down performance in the legislative elections on March 13. So, the final count gave almost 400,000 votes for the left that had not been included in the pre-count released on voting day.

The Petro-led coalition won three additional seats in parliament to reach 45 and become the main force alongside the Liberals.

After several statements about the computer program that will be used this time to count the ballots, there are rumors about a possible suspension or resignation of the head of the National Registry of Civil Status in charge of organizing the elections or even a postponement in extremis of the scrutiny.

On Saturday night, Petro launched a "alert" and stated during a speech in Barranquilla (north) that"they are attempting a blow to the popular vote".

"They plan to suspend the elections, they plan to suspend the bodies that govern the electoral process in Colombia", he assured vehemently. The leftist called a meeting of "urgency" Monday with other candidates to discuss the issue.

The Minister of the Interior, Diego Palacios, denied it on Twitter: "Affirmations that speak of the postponement or suspension of the elections are absolutely false. We ask candidates and teams not to generate disinformation"wrote.

Along the same lines, the registrar Alexander Vega said on Sunday that he could guarantee a presidential election "legitimate and transparent". He denounced that the attacks against his institution correspond to "a narrative of fraud (…) unfair and false".

But suspicions about the electoral system "andThey’ve been in the air for a few days. Petro may be trying to prevent the coup by going public"comments a diplomatic source and clarifies:"a postponement of the elections is practically inconceivable in a country as legalistic and attached to democracy as Colombia (…) but there is a lot of tension"he warns.

 

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