Oscar Ivan Zuluaga (Photo: El Universal)

Opposition candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga early Sunday evening publicly conceded defeat and congratulated incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos on winning Colombia’s election.

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Juan Manuel Santos


Oscar Ivan Zuluaga

The centrist Santos won the election with close to 51% of the vote compared to the 45% of his right-wing opponent, who less than two hours after the polls had closed congratulated his opponent on Twitter for the victory in one of recent history’s dirtiest and fiercely contented election.

MORE: Juan Manuel Santos Reelected In Colombia’s Presidential Elections

Shortly after, Zuluaga held his first public and televised appearance in Bogota.

“First I would like to congratulate President Santos for his victory,” said Zuluaga, adding that “We have vindicated ourselves as a great Latin American democracy.”

The hard-liner who faced a coalition of parties opposing his candidacy said that he faced a “political machine that had everything in its favor.”

The Democratic Center candidate thanked the ex-candidate for the Conservative Party, Marta Lucia Ramirez, for her support and endorsement, stating that her leadership is a leading example for him and for all Colombians.

“I am very proud to be the presidential candidate of ‘Uribismo’”

However, the biggest cheer came when Zuluaga gave a “very special thank you to Alvaro Uribe Velez.” Former President Uribe is the founder and sole leader of Zuluaga’s party.

“I am very proud to be the presidential candidate of ‘Uribismo’,” exclaimed Zuluaga, referencing the populist movement of former President Uribe.

“This is a defining night for Colombia.”

Ramirez speaks out in support of Zuluaga

Minutes before Zuluaga gave his concession speech, Ramirez took to the podium to speak of the candidate she had endorsed.

MORE: New conservative alliance sees Zuluaga flip-flop on Colombia’s peace talks

“Maybe the Colombian people really believe peace is simply in the negotiations in Havana, but I believe it is in an efficient government that provides health, security, jobs, guarantees justice, and will also promote a real peace for Colombia,” said Ramirez.

Ramirez once again praised Zuluaga for his leadership, courage, and values. She reminded reelected President Santos that he “is president of all Colombians, not just the ones that voted for him.”

The former Conservative Party presidential candidate acknowledged that Colombia’s democracy must be strengthened and that guarantees must be given to opposition parties to ensure groups can exercise their political rights democratically.


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