Colombia election: Juan Manual Santos win is a victory for tough security

Former defense minister Juan Manual Santos wins Colombia's elections Sunday, The new president promises to continue hard-line security policies against leftist rebels.

Fernando Llano/AP
Arriving to cast his vote in Colombia's elections Sunday, June 20, 2010, presidential candidate for the Social National Unity party, Juan Manuel Santos, makes the victory sign. He won with 69 percent of the vote.

Juan Manuel Santos won Colombia’s presidential elections Sunday in a landslide election marked by high abstention and incidents of violence.

Mr. Santos, a former Colombian defense minister who promised continuity of hard-line security policies, won with 69 percent of the vote against 28 percent for Antanas Mockus, a former mayor of Bogota who ran on the Green Party ticket. The official results are based on 99 percent of districts reporting.

Santos will succeed President Alvaro Uribe, whose successful security policies he has vowed to continue while focusing on fighting the country’s high unemployment rate.

Mr. Mockus congratulated Santos and his supporters. “I wish him success as a leader for the good of our country,” he said in his concession speech saying his Green Party would act independently.

“We will support the good things and we will oppose the bad things.”

Mr. Uribe spoke by telephone with Santos to congratulate him and wish him “every success”, a presidential spokesman said. On Aug. 7, Uribe will hand over power to Santos, who served as his defense minister for three years and is credited for some of the most paralyzing blows against leftist rebels,

Santos has said he will form a government of “national unity.” A coalition of his own U Party together with the Conservatives, a majority of Liberals and the Radical Change Party have said they will support the president in Congress giving him the support of 80 percent of the legislature.

Voter turnout was low throughout the country where foul weather, World Cup soccer matches, and general apathy kept many people away from the ballot booths. Abstention was estimated at 56 percent.

The voting was also marred by the death of thee soldiers in clashes with rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and seven police in an ambush by the National Liberation Army, Defense Minister Gabriel Silva said.


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