Colombia’s presidential race heads to runoff

Leftist candidate Gustavo Petro who got 40% votes will face businessman Rodolfo Hernandez in second round on June 19.

Colombian leftist candidate Gustavo Petro came out on top in the first round of the presidential election on Sunday and will face a surprise contender – businessman Rodolfo Hernandez – in a second round on June 19.

Petro, a former member of the M-19 guerrilla movement who has promised profound economic and social change, had 40.3 percent of votes, national registry office tallies showed, with 96.2 percent of ballot boxes counted.

Hernandez, the septuagenarian former mayor of Bucaramanga, won 28.1 percent.

Petro, a 62-year-old former mayor of Bogota, has consistently led opinion polls on promises to redistribute pensions, offer free public universities and battle deep inequality.

He has promised to fully implement a 2016 peace deal with the FARC rebels and seek peace talks with the still-active ELN rebels, as well as halt all new oil and gas development.

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