Former Bogota mayor and ex-rebel fighter Gustavo Petro has become Colombia’s President on Sunday, 19 June, after narrowly defeating real estate millionaire Rodolfo Hernández in the run-off election.
"May so much suffering be cushioned by the joy that today floods the heart of the homeland," Petro wrote on Twitter.
Petro, a current senator who took 50.5 percent votes, defeated the right wing construction magnate by around 7,00,000 ballots, AP reported.
This result etches a major breakthrough for the country, who has spent decades being governed by conservatives and moderates, with elections being held amid nationwide discontent with the country’s governance. Colombia also saw anti-government protests take place last year, where over a dozen lost their lives.
BBC reported that the 62-year-old Petro hailed the victory “for God and for the people.”
During his victory speech, he called for unity while extending an olive branch to his harshest critics and said that opposition members will be welcomed at the presidential palace “to discuss the problems of Colombia,” the AP report added.
“From this government that is beginning there will never be political persecution or legal persecution, there will only be respect and dialogue," Petro said.
He added that he will listen to those who have raised arms as well as to "that silent majority of peasants, Indigenous people, women, youth."
Petro’s running mate, Francia Marques (40) is a lawyer and environmental activist who opposed illegal mining resulting in threats and a grenade attack in 2019. Marques is set to become Colombia’s first Afro-Colombian woman to be elected Vice-President.
Meanwhile, Hernandez, who based his campaign on anti-corruption, conceded defeat shortly after the results were announced
"I accept the result, as it should be, if we want our institutions to be firm," he said in a video on social media.
"I sincerely hope that this decision is beneficial for everyone,” he added.
Petro’s victory is the latest leftist political win in Latin America, with Chila, Peru and Honduras electing leftist presidents in 2021 and former Brazillian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva leading the polls for the upcoming presidential election.