Colombia’s police on highest alert over election violence

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Colombia’s police are on maximum alert after detecting plans by radical groups to reject the results of a second presidential election vote on Sunday and commit violence across the country, top cop General Luis Vargas said.

Colombians will go to the polls on Sunday to choose between leftist Gustavo Petro, who has vowed profound economic and social change, and construction magnate Rodolfo Hernandez, a political outsider who has pledged to shrink government.

Plans to cause violence and reject electoral results were discovered across social media, as well as on the deep web and dark web in posts published by false or anonymous accounts, Vargas said.

“The national police is prepared with all of its capabilities,” Vargas said.

Members of Colombian Police patrol near a voting center during the first round of presidential elections in Suarez, Cauca province, Colombia. EPA-EFE/Ernesto Guzman Jr

Police have carried out 57 operations so far, capturing 267 members of radical groups, including some linked to looting and vandalism carried out during large-scale anti-government protests last year, Colombia’s national police said in a statement.

Vargas did not present evidence but said police have shared their findings with other intelligence agencies.

Alexander Vega, the Colombian official charged with overseeing voting on Sunday, earlier asked Petro to respect the results and assured voters the process would be transparent.

“The message for Petro is that he must respect and abide by the results as he has done in all the elections in which he has participated,” Vega told reporters.

Last week, Petro warned of possible election fraud in an interview with Reuters and said that if evidence of such activity was handed to his campaign team, he would denounce it.

Polls show Hernandez has a slight advantage over his leftist rival, but neither is polling above 50%.

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