BOGOTA – The delegates from the European Parliament who have been in Colombia to supervise the presidential election on the weekend hailed on Monday the fact that the vote transpired peacefully and called for greater respect among the different political groupings.
“For the first time, voting has been carried out all over the country and without violence ... However, a trend toward condemnations, attacks on the social networks and fake news has been detected,” said the head of the European mission, Izaskun Bilbao.
The eight Europarliamentarians comprising the delegation arrived in Colombia last Friday and during Sunday’s vote were present in Bogota and at several towns in southwestern Cauca province.
Bilbao congratulated “the Colombian citizenry for the peaceful and calm development of the elections, as well as for their participation,” which was 13 percent higher than during the 2014 presidential election.
She also acknowledged the “key role” played by “entities tasked with the organization of the election.”
However, the group of European politicians emphasized that the “trend toward condemnations” was a “phenomenon that is becoming generalized all over the world and against which one must fight” because “it’s not a good way to build politics,” Bilbao said.
Finally, the delegation emphasized the importance of the fact that the former combatants of the now-demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) could participate in the election thanks to the peace pact signed between the rebels and the government in November 2016, and the European lawmakers said they hoped that the National Liberation Front (ELN) guerrillas “will also embark” on the same road.
On their visit, the Europarliamentarians met with officials at several Colombian institutions and government departments, including President Juan Manuel Santos and High Commissioner for Peace Rodrigo Rivera.
Colombia on Sunday held the first presidential electoral round, in which Ivan Duque, with former President Alvaro Uribe’s Democratic Center party, garnered 39.14 percent of the votes followed by leftist Gustavo Petro, with the Colombia Humana movement, with 25.08 percent.
The two men will face off in a presidential runoff scheduled for June 17.