Colombia’s new president Iván Duque sworn into office

Colombia’s new president Iván Duque sworn into office

Colombia’s newly-elected President Iván Duque took office on Tuesday, pledging to unite the country and improve economic growth.

The conservative political newcomer was elected in June after a divisive election campaign where he saw off left-wing rival Gustavo Petro.

In his inaugural address, the former lawyer pledged changes to tackle corruption and invigorate the economy.

The leader has also vowed to change the peace deal with the Farc rebel group.

The outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos has urged Mr Duque to respect the deal, which was negotiated in 2016 to bring an end to the country’s brutal five-decade civil conflict.

The Farc, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, is now a political party known as the Revolutionary Alternative Common Force. A number of its members took up seats in parliament last month as part of the terms which guarantee it political representation.

Mr Duque has said he remains committed to Colombia’s peace process, but has accused the Farc of being too lenient on former guerrilla fighters accused of war crimes.

“We will deploy corrective measures to ensure that the victims get the truth, proportional justice, reparations and no repetitions of the past,” the new president said in his address on Tuesday.

Mr Duque also spoke about the need to heal the country after a divisive election campaign earlier this year.

The Centro Democrático (Democratic Centre) party candidate beat opponent Gustavo Petro by 12 points in June – winning the run-off election with 54% of the final vote.

“I want to govern Colombia with unbreakable values and principles, overcoming the divisions of left and right, overcoming with popular dialogue the prickly feelings that invite social fracture, I want to govern Colombia with a spirit to build, never to destroy,” President Duque said in his address.

His political platform is considered business-friendly after he pledged to cut taxes and boost investment in Colombia’s economy.

Mr Duque, who at 42 is the youngest elected Colombian president ever, was handpicked as party leader by founder Álvaro Uribe Velez, who himself was president from 2002 to 2010.

Mr Uribe remains active in politics, but resigned from his senate seat in July to face a bribery and fraud investigation in the Supreme Court.

Mr Duque’s running mate, Marta Lucía Ramirez, has become the country’s first ever female vice-president.

The new president assumes power at a time of heightened tension with neighbours Venezuela. Earlier this week President Nicolas Maduro accused the outgoing Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos of being responsible for an apparent attempt to assassinate him at a military event in Caracas.

The allegation was described as “baseless” by Bogota.


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