The New Year is upon us and the January editorial is always one of the most difficult, as getting back into a writing mode after the Christmas holiday requires plenty of stamina. But Colombians are a resilient lot having dealt with the vicissitudes of 2017, from tax reform to a post-conflict.

This year will be marked by presidential elections and a decisive – if not divisive – moment for all. Even though it is too premature to make predictions, as the race officially gets underway January 27 when all candidates are required to register, a handful of experienced politicians have announced their intention to run, but have not come forward with clear platforms as to where they would lead this country if elected on May 27. And should no candidate clinch the first round, a presidential run-off is scheduled for June 17.

Democratic change is looming on the horizon, and if there is one issue that will mark the 2018 presidential race is the future of the Final Accord with FARC. Besides Humberto de la Calle who led the peace team in Havana and Sergio Fajardo, German Vargas has been vocal with his “No” stance on an agreement that was put to Colombians in a 2016 nationwide plebiscite.

Former presidents Álvaro Uribe Vélez and Andrés Pastrana are hammering out options for an official candidate for their Despierta Colombia alliance. Former Minister of Defense Marta Lucía Ramírez is Pastrana’s choice, but the ultra-conservative ex-Prosecutor General Alejandro Ordóñez believes his name should also be included in this conservative coalition.

With just over four months before the first round, the candidates on the “No” camp will have to  justify to the Colombian electorate how they would make amends to the peace process with FARC; and a demobilized group firmly entrenched as a political party. FARC are not immune to the political climate and should they feel out-manoeuvred in these historic post-conflict elections, they could consider breaking away from politics all together and make a return to the mountains where the insurgency began.

By the time Colombians head to the ballot, it will almost be two years since the government of Juan Manuel Santos signed the peace process with FARC. Too much has been gained in the search for peace, despite an imperfect implementation of the post-conflict. But the post-conflict is what needs to be addressed – not the Final Accord.

Source: The City Paper Bogota