lunes, 10 de febrero de 2014

Former president sees Colombian President's allies winning legislative majority

The former Colombian president Ernesto Samper Pizano was reported on 10 February as anticipating a victory in coming parliamentary elections for Liberals and progressive forces backing President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón. Colombia is to hold elections on 9 March for 102 Senatorial seats and 166 seats of the lower house, the Chamber of Representatives. Mr Santos is backed by the U or Unity party but also the Liberals, and will compete with the Conservatives and the Democratic Centre, the party founded by his conservative predecessor Álvaro Uribe Vélez. These parties have vehemently criticised the peace talks begun by the Government in 2012 with the communist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Mr Samper, a Liberal, was President in 1994-98, though his presidency and name have become associated with political scandals and alleged campaign funding by drug traffickers. He said he expected the "reds," presumably Liberals and leftists, to win enough votes to become the "first political force" in the Senate, El Espectador reported. He estimated some 22 Senatorial seats going to the Liberals, 20 for the U party, 18 for the Conservative Party and 12 for the Democratic Centre. With the 10 seats he attributed to dissident Liberals in Cambio Radical and eight to the left-wing Polo Democrático Alternativo, Mr Samper effectively relegated conservative forces to the position of an impotant opposition. Polls and predictions have proved unreliable in the past as President Santos was expected to struggle against the Green candidate Antanas Mockus in the 2010 presidential elections, which he easily won. Former president Uribe separately denounced on 10 February talk of FARC members one day sitting in parliament as an "abuse" of the armed forces and an "offence" to the public, if the "terrorists" were to "go straight to Congress without paying with a single day in jail," El Espectador reported. Peace talks with the FARC envisage their integration in mainstream politics, once peace is signed. Santos had deceived Colombians he said, for once calling the FARC terrorists and now, "political actors." Since when, Uribe asked, "do political actors shoot down helicopters and recruit children here?"

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