Zuluaga chosen as Colombian ruling party’s presidential candidate
Bogota, Nov 22 (EFE).- Colombian former presidential candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga once again will pursue the Andean nation’s highest office as the nominee of the ruling conservative Democratic Center party, that political grouping said Monday.
Incumbent President Ivan Duque, in office since 2018, is barred from seeking re-election in 2022 due to term limits.
“The winner is Oscar Ivan Zuluaga,” Democratic Center’s national director, Nubia Stella Martinez, said in announcing the results of an internal party vote.
The 62-year-old former finance minister lost in the second round of presidential voting to incumbent Juan Manuel Santos in 2014, a year before term limits were reinstated.
Zuluaga, who was finance chief from 2007 to 2010, during then-President Alvaro Uribe’s second term, is the first official candidate for the May 29, 2022, elections.
The other parties are still in the process of building alliances and selecting their nominees.
Zuluaga beat out Sens. Paloma Valencia and Maria Fernanda Cabal, former Deputy Interior and Justice Minister Rafael Nieto Loaiza and the former governor of the northeastern department of Casanare, Josue Alirio Barrera.
The presidential nominee thanked the members of his party for seeing in his proposal “the possibility of taking Colombia to the place it deserves with opportunities for all, including for our adversaries.”
“Thank you for entrusting me to bring my Democratic Security 2.0 proposal to all Colombians,” he said, referring to his plan to continue the flagship program of Uribe, a hard-liner who won widespread support for his success in battling leftist guerrillas.
Zuluaga, who will embark on a nationwide tour on Tuesday, accompanied by his rivals in the internal balloting, said Colombia is changing and that it is important to understand the “new reality” of the country, which has been hit hard by the pandemic and is struggling to bring down a high unemployment rate.
“Only in that way will we be able to form a great national team to face the tough election challenge that lies ahead,” said the Uribe-backed candidate, a conservative economist and one of the Democratic Center’s founders.
Zuluaga’s political career also includes a stint in 1990 and 1991 as mayor of his home town of Pensilvania, Caldas department, and one term as senator from 2002 to 2006.
Early polls show left-wing Sen. Gustavo Petro as the 2022 presidential front-runner. EFE