Colombia expected to get first leftist president

Multiple media outlets in Colombia are reporting that Gustavo Petro, a former member of a left-wing guerilla group, is likely to become the country's next president. A runoff presidential election was held on Sunday.

Colombia's election authorities said late on Sunday that with 99 percent of votes counted, Petro had 50.4 percent. Petro is a former mayor of the capital city Bogota.

Independent candidate Rodolfo Hernandez, a businessman, had won 47.2 percent of the votes.

The focal points in the election were tackling the economic disparities that have widened amid the coronavirus pandemic, and improving security measures.

Petro has won support mainly among the poor through his calls to address economic inequality by raising taxes on the wealthy and reviewing free trade agreements. He also says he will promote peace through dialogue with guerrilla groups.

Colombia has long been led by right-wing governments.

Observers say the formation of the first leftist government could signal a shift from Bogota's pro-US policy, and will likely affect US diplomacy in Central and South America.