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Eyes on Bogota mayoral race in local and regional elections

October 25, 2015 - COLOMBIA

The contest for the next mayor of Bogota will be the most watched of the regional elections for governors, mayors, city council members, deputies and other local officials across the country's 32 states and more than 1,100 municipalities.

The position of chief of Colombia's populous capital is considered the second-most powerful in the country, after the national presidency. The state of the peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) will be a factor in the polls.

Deadly skirmishing between government and rebel forces, in midst of peace negotiations that that have been under way since Nov 2012, set back President Juan Manuel Santos' plan to hold a referendum on a FARC peace deal on the same day as the election. The renewed fighting could also complicate voting in rural areas, where the rebels are strongest. Peace talks between the two sides, an attempt to end five decades of conflict, have been under way in Cuba since Nov 2012. There are reports that peace talks with the second-biggest rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN) are impending.

Gustavo Petro, the leftist mayor of the city of 6.7 million, where public safety is among the biggest issues for voters, is stepping down. The Americas Society reports that three candidates for his job have extensive and varied national experience. The front runner is Enrique Peñalosa, a former Bogota mayor who is running as an independent. If elected, Clara López of the leftist Polo Democrático Alternativo (PDA) would be the first woman to hold the post. Rafael Pardo heads a coalition of the Party of the U, Liberal and Look Movement parties.

All candidates will be elected to 5-year terms from Jan 1, 2016.

Who's Leading the Race for Mayor of Bogota? (ASCOA 14 Aug 2015)

Four FARC rebels killed in Colombia clash: army (AFP 5 Sep 2015)

Terrorism risks fall in Colombia as FARC attacks chart downward trend; ELN increasing operations in northeast (IHS Jane's 26 Feb 2015)

Date written/update: 2015-09-09