Juan Manuel Santos has been re-elected as Colombia’s president in the most dramatic presidential contest in years.
Juan Manuel Santos won 51% of votes and saw off his right-wing challenger Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, who had 45%.
Juan Manuel Santos has been re-elected as Colombia’s president in the most dramatic presidential contest in years (photo Reuters)
Correspondents say the victory will be seen as an endorsement of the president’s ongoing peace talks with the leftist FARC rebel group.
Oscar Ivan Zuluaga had said he would halt the talks unless the rebels ceased all hostilities.
Juan Manuel Santos launched peace talks with the FARC in November 2012.
The negotiations, which are being held in Cuba, are aimed at ending five decades of conflict.
He expects a deal to be signed by the end of the year, with the FARC giving up their armed struggle and joining the legal political process.
Juan Manuel Santos, 62, will be inaugurated in August for a new four-year term.
Colombians are voting in a runoff election between incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos and his conservative rival Oscar Ivan Zuluaga.
The campaign has been dominated by discussions on the ongoing peace talks with the leftist FARC rebel group.
President Juan Manuel Santos, who launched the negotiations in November 2012, lost the first round of the vote last month by a narrow margin.
His opponent Oscar Ivan Zuluaga says he will impose tougher conditions in order to carry on with the talks.
More than 32 million Colombians are eligible to vote, but the turnout was low in the first round at just over 40%.
Oscar Ivan Zuluaga defeated Juan Manuel Santos in the first round of vote by a narrow margin
Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, 55, is a former cabinet minister in Juan Manuel Santos’s centre-right government.
Their main disagreement seems to be on how to end a five-decade long conflict with Colombia’s main rebel group, the FARC.
Oscar Ivan Zuluaga initially said he would pull out of the talks and boost military attacks on the weakened rebel group.
That is the line adopted by his mentor, former president Alvaro Uribe, who was elected senator this year and is still one of the most influential figures in Colombian politics.
Later in the campaign he said he would continue to negotiate with the Farc provided the rebels renounced military action during the talks.
Juan Manuel Santos, 62, is aiming to conclude negotiations by the end of the year.
Government negotiators and rebel leaders have held several rounds of talks in the Cuban capital, Havana.
They have agreed on three points of the agenda drawn up in 2012: land reform, future political participation and drug trafficking, which is allegedly the main source of income for the rebels.
Three other points remain to be agreed on: the rights of the victims, disarmament of the rebels and the implementation of the agreement.
On the eve of the vote, Colombia stopped to watch the national team in its opening match in the football World Cup.
Both candidates were quick to congratulate the team on its 3-0 victory over Greece in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte.
Polls open at 08:00 local time and close at 16:00 local time. Results are expected shortly after polls close, as ballots are electronic.
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Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has rejected proposed mediation by Rev Jesse Jackson over FARC rebel-held hostage.
Juan Manuel Santos said only the Red Cross would be allowed to be involved, because he did not want “a media spectacle”.
Jesse Jackson had agreed to go to Colombia next week to seek the release of former US marine Kevin Scott Sutay, held by leftist FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) rebels since June.
The FARC say they want to free Kevin Scott Sutay to boost peace talks.
During a visit to Cuba on Saturday, Rev Jesse Jackson had agreed to mediate, following a FARC statement saying his “experience and probity” would speed up the process of freeing Kevin Scott Sutay, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.
However, President Juan Manuel Santos reacted quickly, writing on Twitter: “Only the Red Cross will be allowed to facilitate the release of the North American kidnapped by the FARC. We won’t allow a media spectacle.”
Rev Jesse Jackson had agreed to go to Colombia next week to seek the release of former US marine Kevin Scott Sutay, held by leftist FARC rebels since June
Earlier this month, during a visit to Colombia, Jesse Jackson had called on Colombia’s largest rebel group to release Kevin Scott Sutay.
The left-wing rebels responded by releasing a statement on Saturday inviting the civil rights leader to participate in the negotiations over the ex-soldiers’ release.
Hours later, Jesse Jackson accepted the invitation in Cuba, where he had met rebel leaders who are in Havana for peace talks with the Colombian government, as a service “to Kevin Scott, his family and our nation.”
“We have made contact with the State Department urging them to contact as quickly as possible the nearest of kin of Kevin Scott because his release is imminent,” he said.
In their statement, the FARC say they have not yet released Kevin Scott because the government has not “fulfilled the minimum conditions required” for freeing him.
Earlier this week, the left-wing rebels had requested the involvement of former Senator Piedad Cordoba in the release process, but President Juan Manuel Santos also dismissed this to avoid a “media spectacle”.
As a result, on Friday Piedad Cordoba sent a letter to the FARC declining to participate.
The freeing of Kevin Scott would “contribute to a positive mood” in the continuing peace talks with the Colombian government in Cuba, the FARC says.
So far, officially there has been agreement on only one of six points on the agenda – land reform.
Five decades of internal conflict in Colombia have led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people.