A Colombian court ordered the two presidential candidates to attend a debate that would be broadcast nationwide before the ballot on June 19, in a first-instance ruling released on Wednesday.

In the midst of the electoral campaign, both candidates have refused on different occasions to publicly debate their proposals. After the results of the first round, the refusal came from the candidate Rodolfo Hernández, of the Anticorruption Governors League, who said that he would focus his strategy on giving information only in interviews and on social networks.

“The grandiloquence generated by a debate of ideas is not replaced with interviews, communications or notices in the media or social networks,” indicated the Superior Court of the Judicial District of Bogotá. “The presidential debates are in themselves considered a right of the candidate to present his ideas, but at the same time a duty towards the social conglomerate,” the ruling details.

Leftist Gustavo Petro, a Hernández contender and a seasoned speaker from his time in the Senate, immediately agreed to attend a presidential debate no later than Thursday, as required by the ruling.

”The court has ordered the presidential debate between candidates. It is the right of the people. I’m ready for it,” he wrote on his Twitter.

After remaining silent for hours, Hernández told the press that they will ask the court for “clarification of the ruling,” although he did not specify what doubts he has. Although he did not immediately join the request for a debate, the candidate assured that he will comply with the law: “We have always complied both in the private and public part.”

The judicial decision protects the right of Colombians to participate in the formation, exercise and control of political power. It was filed by a group of citizens, including some lawyers.

Luis Mauricio Urquijo, one of the plaintiffs, assured The Associated Press that the ruling is immediately enforceable, even if it is first instance. “The filing of appeals against the decision does not suspend compliance with it, since it is a situation of constitutional rank where fundamental rights are involved.”

Although in the first presidential round Petro achieved the advantage with 40% of the votes, over Hernández with 28%, this difference narrowed. The latest published polls show a technical tie, so both candidates seek to win every vote before the hard-fought scenario, concentrating their speech on the undecided and the blank vote.

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