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| 5/31/2010 12:00:00 AM

Ex-Defense Chief Leads in Colombia

May 31st--A scion of a powerful Colombian family comfortably won more votes than an eccentric former mayor of Bogotá in presidential elections on Sunday, but narrowly failed to get the majority needed to prevent a runoff election in June between the two men.

The lead vote-getter, Juan Manuel Santos, the architect of crushing blows against guerrillas as a defense minister under President Álvaro Uribe, took 46.6 percent, against 21.5 percent for his main rival, Antanas Mockus, a French-educated mathematician who had unexpectedly emerged as a strong contender in the race, Colombian election authorities said Sunday night. Several other candidates garnered shares of the remainder of the vote.

Mr. Santos’s inability to win more than 50 percent opens the way for a new campaigning phase in which the two are expected to fiercely criticize each other’s capabilities yet again. Mr. Mockus has emphasized human rights scandals on his opponent’s watch as defense minister, while Mr. Santos has questioned if Mr. Mockus is ready to lead a country that faces resilient security threats from leftist rebels and drug-trafficking gangs.
Despite polls that briefly signaled that Mr. Mockus was within grasp of a victory, the results showed that many voters were instead ready to support Mr. Santos, who portrayed himself as the political heir to Mr. Uribe, a strong ally of the United States who lowered kidnapping and murder rates during his eight years in power.

“Of all the candidates running, Santos wears the pants when it comes to confronting the guerrillas,” said Fernando Morales, 37, a security guard, after casting his vote here.

“I don’t like Mockus much because he’s someone who lowers his pants to get attention,” Mr. Morales said in a dig at Mr. Mockus, who as a university dean rose to prominence in the 1990s after dropping his trousers and mooning an auditorium of unruly students. The episode forced Mr. Mockus to resign from his post, but gave him the publicity to run successfully for mayor of Bogotá.
 
Read more here.
 
Semana International delivers news about Colombia in English. Find more in our home.
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EDICIÓN 1829

PORTADA

Gran encuesta presidencial

Vargas Lleras arranca fuerte, Petro está estancado, Fajardo tiene cómo crecer y los partidos tradicionales andan rezagados. Entre los uribistas, Ramos se ve fuerte. Y Santos tiene 35 por ciento de aceptación. Gran encuesta de Invamer para Caracol Televisión, Blu Radio y SEMANA.