Bogota, May 29 (IANS): The Colombian government has deployed armed forces to ensure the safety of voters on Sunday in the first round of presidential elections.
According to the Defence Ministry, about 80,000 soldiers have been deployed across the country to guarantee the security of the elections, and the navy has positioned 7,000 sailors in maritime areas, reports Xinhua news agency.
The security of the capital city of Bogota was reinforced with 1,700 more soldiers, besides 11,200 police officers and 1,800 soldiers.
Authorities said alcohol sales have also stopped throughout the country until Monday noon.
Polling stations will be open from 8 a.m. (local time, about 7 p.m. IST) to 4 p.m. when millions of Colombians are expected to exercise their right to vote.
A candidate must garner 50 per cent of the vote to win the first round.
If not, a second round of voting will be held on June 19 between the top two contenders.
According to a poll conducted earlier this month, the presidential race is likely to head to a runoff between progressive candidate Gustavo Petro and his conservative rival Federico Gutierrez.
The survey by polling firm Invamer showed Petro has taken the lead with 40.6 per cent of the voter support, followed by Gutierrez with 27.1 per cent.
Another conservative candidate, Rodolfo Hernandez, appeared to be gaining strength, with 20.9 per cent of the support.
The new President will assume office on August 7.