Colombia presidential candidates neck-and- neck from vote

BOGOTA, (Reuters) – Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos and rival Oscar Ivan Zuluaga were neck-and-neck in a Gallup poll of voters published yesterday, before a June 15 run-off election centered on how to end 50 years of civil war.

Right-wing economist Zuluaga had a narrow lead with 48.5 percent, versus 47.7 percent for the president, but the pair are effectively tied given the poll’s 3 percent margin of error.

The figures will intensify a bitter election battle shaping into Colombia’s closest for two decades.

Incumbent Santos is fighting for a second four-year mandate to complete peace talks he initiated with the leftist FARC or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in 2012. The talks, he says, offer a rare chance to end a war that has killed around 220,000.

Zuluaga wants to impose tougher conditions for those talks in Havana, which would heighten the risk of their collapse.

His demands include a FARC ceasefire, strict adherence to a timetable, jail terms for leaders, and an end to the planting of land mines and forced recruitment of children.

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