Colombia begins a peaceful transition of power

President Duque meets President-elect Petro at the Casa de Nariño/Presidencia

With enough distance between them to frame the Colombian flag and flower arrangement, on Thursday afternoon President Iván Duque welcomed President-elect Gustavo Petro to the Casa de Nariño.

The encounter was the first meeting between the right-wing president and the left-leaning leader since Duque defeated his political opponent in the 2018 election. Yet despite four turbulent years in which the Colombian senator of the Humana movement led opposition to Duque, repeatedly calling him an “autocrat” and a “dictator”, Petro was greeted at the gates of Bogotá’s presidential palace – Casa de Nariño – by chief of staff María Paula Correa, administrative director of the presidency Víctor Muñoz and the Minister of Finance, José Manuel Restrepo.

During a meeting that lasted an hour and 20 minutes, Duque and Petro discussed the transition of power, the state of the nation’s finances, as well as security issues. The two men appeared relaxed in their Louis XVI armchairs and honored by a Republican decor.

Petro entered the halls of power hours after the country’s National Electoral Council (CNE) certified the victory of the candidate and that of his running mate Francia Márquez. On Friday, outgoing Chancellor and Vice President Marta Lucia Ramírez will meet the country’s first black vice president and environmental activist who will play a key role in implementing the 2016 peace accords in a Petro administration.

Beyond the photo op which left many entrenched on the far right and left furious, the most significant announcement followed the meeting when Petro invited former President Álvaro Uribe to a meeting in front of face as part of a Gran Acuerdo Nacional – or translated as Grand National Accord.

The two-term former president accepted the invitation to represent his Centro Democrático party, thanking President Petro for the opportunity to speak about “different visions of the same country”. President-elect Petro then responded to his most critical opponent by saying on Twitter: “I’m sure Colombia will appreciate that we find common ground for a common homeland.”

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