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| 3/16/2010 12:00:00 AM

Former defense minister front-runner in Colombia election

March 16--With results from congressional elections trickling in Monday, Juan Manuel Santos, a former defense minister who marshaled U.S. aid to thrash Marxist guerrillas, has consolidated his position as the front-runner to succeed Álvaro Uribe as president of Colombia.

His party, the U, won 27 of 102 seats in the Senate, seven more than it had after the 2006 elections. That put Santos, 58, scion of a newspaper dynasty, in the best position to win elections in May.

"Today the U party has won -- the party of President Uribe," Santos said late Sunday after polls closed. "We are newly consolidated as the principal political force in the country."
 
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