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Betancourt should run for president, says poll

Newly freed Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt faces new appeals that she run for president of her country, while others call for her to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

world Updated: Jul 07, 2008 22:49 IST

Newly freed Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt faced on Monday new appeals that she run for president of her country, while others called for her to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

An opinion poll conducted by the National Consulting Centre, published in Semana magazine, found that 31 per cent of Colombians said they would vote for Betancourt were she to seek the presidency in 2010, putting her near the top of a short list of possible presidential contender.

The 46-year-old ran for Colombian president in 2002 and it was while she was out on the campaign trail that she was taken hostage by rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

She has become a cause celebre since being freed on Wednesday, along with 14 other hostages, after some six years in captivity in the jungle.

When asked by Semana about her political plans now, Betancourt demurred. “I have come to the conclusion that I probably will return to politics, because it is my destiny, but I’m not going to speak about that now,” she said in an interview published on Sunday. “I’m thinking about the greatness and the generosity of my children, and my family, and for now that will be my priority,” said Betancourt, who is currently with family members in France, which had pressed hard for her release.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has invited Betancourt, who also has French nationality, to attend Bastille Day celebrations on July 14, when he is expected to personally award her the Legion of Honour, France’s highest distinction, according to an Elysee source and her support committee.

Other leaders have talked of seeking more honours for her. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet was among those calling for Betancourt to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. “I will immediately begin vigorously pushing her candidacy for the Nobel Peace Prize,” Bachelet told the La Nacion daily newspaper.