President Santos: `re-elect me for peace`
Colombia`s President Juan Manuel Santos, tonight launched an audacious re-election bid, claiming peace is possible only with him in charge.
Santos will ask Colombians next May to vote for four more years to implement peace accords he hopes the in coming months to have signed with FARC guerrillas.
If the president has his way, ending Colombia`s 50 year conflict will be the central issue as the campaign officially begins on Monday. Santos`strategy is to offer the electorate a choice of the “friends of peace” and the enemies of the FARC talks underway in Havana. The commander-in-chief hopes that, however sceptical the public may be, it will ultimately not vote against a farewell to arms.
Santos is building a coalition of Liberal, Conservative, Cambio Radical, and other, parties in support of his re-election.
Yesterday, the President sat late into the night securing the support of potential rival, German Vargas Lleras, and also tied up backing from left-wing Bogota Mayor, Gustavo Petro and right-wing Conservatives.
With support from the major political powerhouses already secured, Santos is trying to stitch up the election before the campaign has begun. Currently there is no candidate that has a chance of beating him.
Oscar Ivan Zuluaga is his closest rival but, despite having the support of hardline former president, Alvaro Uribe, Zuluaga has failed to capture the attention of the public.
Polls show that less than a third of Colombians want Santos back in the presidential palace come next August (when the possession takes place). However, with the state`s largesse at his disposal, the coalition votes in the bag, and the majority of the national media “on message”, public opinion will struggle to be heard. Santos` re-election has an air of inevitability.
Within minutes of Santos` address, supporters were dispatched to the TV and radio studios to herald the achievements of the administration. Those that just days ago were wondering whether to ditch a president ailing in the polls are today firmly tied to the re-election ship.
If these supporters are to be believed the votes have already been counted. Will Colombians fall in line and obey the wishes of the political class?
Picture, El Tiempo.