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Rival concedes, leftist Petro in Colombia runoff

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ Former Medellin Mayor Sergio Fajardo is conceding defeat, but not showing signs of who he’ll support in an upcoming runoff where his 4.5 million supporters is likely to be decisive.

Fajardo finished third in Sunday’s balloting, a little more than 1 percentage point behind former leftist guerrilla Gustavo Petro, who will now face conservative Ivan Duque in a June runoff.

“We showed Colombia the power of convictions, the force of hope,” said Fajardo, who praised his supporters for not being wooed by the false promises and dirty campaigning of his rivals.

Fajardo gambled that rising disgust with Colombia’s corrupt politics would elevate a less-ideological, candidate from the center.

On the campaign trail he promised to be a “Professor President,” touting his background as an academic who spent decades teaching math at universities in Colombia.

He said he would continue to build his political alliance with the aim of injecting more integrity to Colombia’s political system

5:40 p.m.

Colombia’s presidential election is heading to a runoff after conservative former Senator Ivan Duque finished first in voting Sunday. He’s likely to face off against leftist former rebel Gustavo Petro, who had the seemingly-unsurmountable edge in a tight race for second place.

With almost all polling stations reporting, Duque won 39 percent. He was trailed by Petro, who won 25 percent, and former Medellin Mayor ergio Fajardo, who finished with 24 percent and had not yet conceded defeat.

With 53 percent of registered voters casting ballots, turnout was highest in two decades.

The two presidential candidates represent opposite ends of Colombia’s political spectrum and have presented dramatically different visions for the future of the Andean nation as it moves forward with a historic peace process with leftist rebels.

Duque is the hand-picked candidate of Alvaro Uribe, the former president and chief critic of the nation’s 2016 peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. He is promising to amend important aspects of the accord like ensuring the drug trafficking is not an amnestied crime.

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5:25 p.m.

The conservative protege of a powerful former president and a leftist ex-guerrilla look to be heading to what promises to be a polarizing runoff election for president in Colombia

With almost all the quick count results in, former senator Ivan Duque was winning with 39 percent of the ballots cast Sunday, shy of the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a June runoff. Former rebel and ex-Bogota mayor Gustavo Petro trailed in second place with 25 percent, edging out former Medellin Mayor Sergio Fajardo, who finished with 24 percent.

The two presidential candidates represent opposite ends of Colombia’s political spectrum and have presented dramatically different visions for the future of the Andean nation as it moves forward with a historic peace process with leftist rebels.

Duque is the hand-picked candidate of Alvaro Uribe, the former president and chief critic of the nation’s 2016 peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. He is promising to amend important aspects of the accord like ensuring the drug trafficking is not an amnestied crime.

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4:40 p.m.

Early results in Colombia’s presidential election show conservative former Sen. Ivan Duque leadingthe race with two candidates fighting neck and neck for second and a place in what’s likely to be a June runoff.

With 60 percent of polling stations reporting, Duque leads with 41 percent compared to 24 percent for former leftist guerrilla Gustavo Petro and 23 percent for former Medellin Mayor Sergio Fajardo.

The winning candidate needs to win at least 50 percent of the vote to avoid a June runoff.

The election is the first in decades in which candidates rallied voters on issues like the economy instead of how to defeat leftist rebels.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia signed a contentious peace accord with the government in 2016 that led to the demobilization of thousands of guerrilla fighters.

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4:30 p.m.

Results from Colombia’s first presidential election since the signing of an historic peace accord are trickling in Sunday following a contentious campaign in which voters no longer focused on defeating leftist rebels weighed issues corruption, inequality and crime.

Preliminary tallies with just 12 percent of polling stations reporting put former senator Ivan Duque in first place with about 42 percent of the vote. The race for second place was tight between leftist Gustavo Petro, with 24 percent, and former Medellin mayor Sergio Fajardo, who has 21 percent.

Duque, the conservative protege of former President Alvaro Uribe, the chief critic of the peace deal, has led polls throughout the campaign and is promising to amend important aspects of the accord like ensuring that drug trafficking is not an amnestied crime.

Petro has led the race for a spot in a June run-off if Duque is unable to secure the more than 50 percent of votes required to win in the first round

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4 p.m.

Polls in Colombia have closed in a first round of voting for president that drew millions of people to the ballot box.

Voters now await the results in a polarizing contest hat pit candidates for and against the nation’s peace process against one another.

The race is the first in Colombia’s recent history in which candidates rallied voters on issues like the economy instead of how to defeat leftist rebels.

Rebels with the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia signed a contentious peace accord with the government in 2016.

Front-runner conservative Ivan Duque is pledging to make “corrections” to aspects of the accord including to amnesty terms for former guerrillas.

He would need more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a run-off election in June.

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1: 20 p.m.

For decades, Colombians voted with an eye on the bloody conflict with leftist rebels that dominated their country and politics.

But on Sunday they were casting their ballots in the first presidential election since the signing of a peace accord with the nation’s biggest rebel group to end the conflict and were weighing issues like corruption, inequality, crime and relations with their crisis-plagued neighbor Venezuela.

The two leading candidates have presented dramatically different visions for both Colombia’s economic model and the future of its divisive peace process in a polarizing campaign driven by a wave of anti-establishment sentiment.

Leading the polls is conservative former senator Ivan Duque, the protege of former President Alvaro Uribe, the chief critic of the peace deal, but surveys suggest he is unlikely to get the more than 50 percent of votes required to avoid a June runoff. He’s being chased by Gustavo Petro, a former guerrilla and ex-Bogota mayor, whose rise has triggered business concerns he would push Colombia toward the left and rattle markets.