Colombia’s President-elect Ivan Duque has been sworn in as the country’s 60th president, amid concern over the influence he will have on the country’s peace process.
More than 12,000 police were deployed in the historic centre of the capital Bogota for Duque’s inauguration on Tuesday, according to local reports.
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The heads of state of Argentina, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama and the Dominican Republic are expected to attend the ceremony at Bolivar Square, where Congress will gather for an open-air session.
UN ambassador Nikki Haley is also expected to lead a US delegation to Duque’s swearing-in.
RT @USUN: We had a great meeting w President-elect @IvanDuque ahead of his inauguration to discuss US-Colombia ties. We look forward to a strong partnership that aggressively counters the narcotics trade & increases stability in the region #Colombia #USPartner #UnitedForTheFuture pic.twitter.com/pF4wcB63aL
— Archive: Ambassador Nikki Haley (@AmbNikkiHaley) August 7, 2018
The mayor of the US city of Miami, Francis Suarez, as well as the leader of Spain’s Popular Party, Pablo Casado, are also attending the event.
Colombia’s civil aviation authority on Monday banned drones from entering the area, after an alleged drone attack targeted Nicolas Maduro, president of neighbouring Venezuela on Saturday.
TRANSLATION: By presidential protocol, Aerocivil prohibits the use of drones in the vicinity of the Casa de Narino. The measure aims at guaranteeing security at the inauguration of the new president of Colombia.
#ComunicadoDePrensa Por acto protocolario presidencial, Aerocivil prohíbe uso de drones en alrededores de la Casa de Nariño. La medida busca garantizar la seguridad en el acto de posesión del nuevo presidente de Colombia. pic.twitter.com/9EME34aLlK
— Aeronáutica Civil de Colombia (@AeroCivilCol) August 6, 2018
Maduro blamed the attack on outgoing Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. But Santos denied the allegation.
“For God’s sake. To Venezuela’s president, I say this: On Saturday I was doing more important things. I was at my granddaughter’s baptism,” said Santos.
Duque, a 42-year-old former senator, defeated left-leaning candidate, Gustavo Petro, in a presidential runoff in June with 54 percent of the vote.
As the youngest president in Colombia’s recent history, Duque is expected to appoint a cabinet consisting largely of little-known technocrats, with the same number of women and men.
Duque is seen as having a positive relationship with the United States.
After his victory, he said he welcomed US President Donald Trump’s agenda for a “head-on fight against drug trafficking.”
“Today I received a call from the US president where he congratulated us for the results achieved in the last elections and also his commitment to support our security, justice agenda, our agenda of a head-on fight against drug trafficking,” Duque had told reporters.
Duque also spoke to US Vice President Mike Pence, and according to him, they discussed ways to ramp up the drug war, and apply more pressure on Venezuela.
Spoke with President-Elect @IvanDuque of Colombia today, stressing the need to move decisively to cut drug production & trafficking. We discussed the humanitarian crisis and authoritarian conditions in Venezuela and committed to continue to press for the restoration of democracy.
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) June 22, 2018
During the campaign, Duque promised to crack down on crime and armed groups, lower taxes for businesses, and fight corruption.
He is widely seen as a protege of former President Alvaro Uribe, a fierce opponent of the peace deal with the country’s FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) rebel group, now a political party known as the Revolutionary Alternative Common Force.
He has criticised aspects of Santos’ 2016 peace deal with FARC, raising concern that he might undermine the peace process and prompt many former rebel members to join other armed groups.
The peace deal with FARC led to the demobilisation of about 7,000 of its fighters following a conflict of more than half a century involving leftist rebel groups, the army and right-wing paramilitary groups.
Internal conflict in Colombia has left more than 260,000 people dead since 1958, according to the government’s National Centre for Historic Memory.