Colombia election proceeding with no incidents, but with Web site failure

Bogota, Mar 13 (FE).- Colombian authorities reported Sunday that election day is proceeding without any major incidents or disturbances, despite failures in the Web page of the National Voter Registry, the organizer of the elections, although officials are – at present – ruling out a cyberattack.

Defense Minister Diego Molano held a press conference at the Unified Command Post and reported complete normality in all election-related security matters around the country.

The government has mobilized more than 241,000 soldiers and police nationwide to guard the 14,228 precincts.

Molano invited Colombians to participate in the election “with complete freedom and calm.”

The National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group, which last month began an “armed halt” to its military activities in several regions of the country, declared a unilateral cease-fire for the election period, which began on March 10 and will run until midnight on the 14th.

On March 13, Colombians are heading to the polls to elect the members of the Senate and House of Representatives, as well as the presidential hopefuls from three political coalitions in a kind of primary.

Citizens in certain rural zones will also be able to select 16 representatives in a first-of-its-kind project of setting aside seats in Congress for people who suffered during decades of armed conflict.

Meanwhile, however, failures were reported on the Voter Registry’s Web site with users saying that they cannot check certain things, according to dozens of complaints posted on the social networks.

The Registry said that the failures of the platform were due to the large number of people attempting to access it or who were using it, adding that authorities are working to fully reestablish service.

Regarding these problems, the head of the National Police, Gen. Jorge Luis Vargas, said at a press conference that, so far, no reports have been received of any cyberattack on the Registry’s Web site, adding that the difficulties there seem to stem merely from technical issues.

In addition, he said that the Registry itself is operating normally and people may contact it directly to ask for voting information.

Given this incident, the cybernetic capabilities of the Defense Ministry have been strengthened to counteract any threat that might adversely affect election operations.

Nearly 400 candidates have thrown their hats into the ring for one of the 16 so-called “peace seats” now available in the lower house of Congress.

All of these seats are in Temporary Special Peace Districts (CITREP) established in rural areas that were particularly affected by the multisided conflict involving government forces, leftist guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and criminal organization seeking to exploit the five-decade-long war.



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