BOGOTA, Colombia – The younger protégé of a robust former president is being sworn in as Colombia’s new chief Tuesday, tasked with guiding the implementation of a peace accord with leftist rebels that continues to be on shaky floor.
Forty-two-year-old Ivan Duque would be the youngest Colombian chief of state ever elected in a preferred vote when he’s sworn into workplace at Bogota’s Plaza Bolivar.
The prematurely graying father of three describes himself as a centrist who will unite the nation at a time when many are nonetheless fiercely divided over the peace settlement that ended greater than 5 many years of bloody battle.
His detractors worry he shall be little greater than a puppet for Alvaro Uribe, the conservative ex-president who led a referendum defeat of the preliminary model of peace accord in 2016. Uribe remains to be backed by tens of millions of Colombians, although he’s maybe equally detested by legions who decry human rights abuses throughout his administration.
Duque is taking Colombia’s presidency at a vital juncture: Coca manufacturing is hovering to document ranges, holdout unlawful armed teams are battling for territory the place the state has little or no presence and a spate of killings of social activists has underlined that peace stays a relative time period.
“If Duque shouldn’t be capable of clear up this drawback and discover a strategy to deliver the state into the countryside, we will maintain having the identical issues we have had for many years,” stated Jorge Gallego, a professor at Colombia’s Rosario College.
Duque is the son of a former governor and vitality minister and mates say he has harbored presidential aspirations since early childhood. However his rise from unknown technocrat to a preferred senator and now president has been terribly fast, propelled largely by the help of his mentor, Uribe.
Simply 4 years in the past, Duque was a Washington suburbanite with a soft job at a world growth financial institution. It was there that he developed shut ties to Uribe, helping the previous president when he taught a course at Georgetown College. Later Duque helped Uribe lead a United Nations probe into Israel’s lethal assault on a Gaza-bound assist flotilla and helped him write his memoir.
Then in 2014, Uribe propelled Duque into the political limelight when he inspired him to return to Colombia to run for a Senate seat and positioned him on an inventory of newcomer candidates that he urged his multitude of supporters to elect.
Inside Uribe’s conservative Democratic Heart get together, Duque’s status as a extra reasonable voice can at instances put him at odds with the solidly right-wing faction. Uribe’s help is thus thought-about essential for Duque to rule with the total backing of his get together. However he might want to construct a broader alliance to cross legal guidelines in Congress.
Duque’s dependence on Uribe has sparked concern from critics, although analysts consider the previous chief’s mounting authorized troubles may present the incoming president a brand new diploma of independence.
Uribe briefly stepped down from the Senate in July after the Supreme Court docket requested him to testify on allegations of bribery and witness tampering in a case associated to claimed ties to paramilitaries, which he vehemently denies. Uribe later reversed course and withdrew his resignation letter.
Within the weeks since Duque’s resounding victory over leftist ex-guerrilla Gustavo Petro, the president-elect has signaled each his loyalty to Uribe and a conviction to chart his personal path. Whereas a lot of his Cupboard picks have ties to Uribe, there are additionally a lot of incoming ministers with no hyperlinks to a conventional political get together.
“Thus far I feel he has proven extra independence than some sectors believed,” Gallego stated. “Treating Duque as a puppet of Uribe is a really simplistic method of analyzing issues.”
On the high of Duque’s agenda are more likely to be Colombia’s financial system and the peace settlement in addition to reversing coca manufacturing that final yr reached ranges unseen in additional than 20 years of document conserving and $10 billion in U.S. counter-narcotics work. The hovering coca ranges have examined historically shut ties with the USA.
All through his marketing campaign, Duque promised to push modifications within the peace settlement, together with creating more durable penalties for former leaders of the now defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia liable for crimes in opposition to humanity. Below the accord, most rebels who absolutely confess their crimes shall be spared any jail time, a sore level for a lot of Colombians who nonetheless vividly keep in mind the atrocities of conflict.
Colombia’s battle between leftist rebels, the state and paramilitary teams left no less than 260,000 lifeless, some 60,000 lacking and tens of millions displaced.
Whereas some worry Duque’s anti-accord rhetoric and proposed modifications may additional destabilize what has already been a sluggish and tumultuous implementation, others hope that within the long-term the settlement may get pleasure from broader help from a divided Colombian society if led by somebody with a vital strategy.
Cynthia Arnson, director of the Latin America program on the Woodrow Wilson Worldwide Heart for Students in Washington, famous that Duque’s rhetoric on the peace accord has softened considerably since his election.
“There was a way that as a result of Uribe had campaigned so strenuously in opposition to the peace settlement that Duque was going to come back into workplace and simply rip the factor aside,” she stated. “I do not suppose that that is doubtless.”