(Photo: Vanguardia)

A weekend-long prohibition on alcohol took force in Colombia on Saturday as citizens prepare themselves to vote for the country’s fiercely contested presidential elections on Sunday.

According to a decree released by the Ministry of Interior, the countrywide temporary “Dry Law” prevents the sale and consumption of alcohol from 6PM Saturday to 6AM Monday.

Within the same decree, the Ministry has also set a number of rules and guidelines to be adhered to on election day for media outlets, political gatherings and campaign rallies, public transport services, and a restriction on firearms.

The restrictions will also apply for the second round of voting, scheduled to take place on June 15, if none of the five presidential candidates manages to win a clear majority during Sunday’s fist round.

MORE: Colombia election campaigns end: Santos and Zuluaga tie in latest poll

Dry Law

Article 15 in Decree 891 states that no alcohol can be consumed or sold during the set period over the weekend the presidential elections, however, local authorities — such as state governors and mayors — can alter the timespan of the law application within their respective jurisdictions.

Similar laws are enforced during elections in a number of Latin American countries including Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela — which applies the law on election day only.

Electoral Propaganda, Campaign Rallies and Media Transmissions

Article 2 in the decree states that until Monday any political meetings and rallies taking place may only be conducted indoors and not in public spaces. No new political propaganda — such as posters and billboards — may be erected during election day.

Additionally, a number of points for media reporting on election day have been outlined — including guidelines on broadcasting, interviewing candidates and party members, and the restriction on the broadcast of electoral projections based on data received from survey results, or based on statements taken from voters regarding their vote.

The transmission of all political propaganda through radio, print and television, as well as mobile services is prohibited.

Firearms, Public Transport and Border Closure

A nation-wide restriction on permits allowing firearms to be carried has also been applied over the election weekend and will last until Wednesday May 28.

As the elections take place on a Sunday, mass transport systems and public transport companies active in both urban and regional areas are required to provide services to the public at no less than 80% of their capacity, and may only charge the standard fees set by the local authorities.

According to Medellin Mayor’s Office, the city’s “Metro” mass transport system — which includes rail, buses, and cable cars — will provide free transport throughout the metropolitan area from 6 AM to 6 PM on election day.

Bogota’s Transmilenio mass transport bus system will charge the normal ticket price on Sunday.

The Interior Ministry has also ordered the closure of all land and river border crossings, which Colombian shares with Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Panama, from 4 AM Saturday May 24 to 4 PM Monday May 25.


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