Conservative candidate wins Colombia presidential poll | world | Hindustan Times
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Conservative candidate wins Colombia presidential poll

world Updated: Jun 21, 2010 08:18 IST
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Conservative candidate Juan Manuel Santos won Colombia's presidential runoff by a landslide on Sunday.

With nearly 60 per cent of the vote counted, he had 69 per cent of the vote, against fellow finalist Antanas Mockus, a former Bogota mayor who had been a huge underdog in the second-round vote.

Santos, 58, a former defence minister, had been widely favoured. After falling short of an outright majority with nearly 47 per cent in the first round, pre-runoff surveys had shown him winning nearly two thirds of the vote.

Mockus, an independent candidate for the Green Party, was a distant second place at 21.5 per cent in the first-round election May 30. Surveys had shown him far behind in the second round, and Sunday's ongoing vote count showed him running below 30 per cent.

With his insurmountable lead, Santos is in line to begin a four-year presidential term August 7.

Santos has pledged a seamless continuation of the policies of the popular outgoing President Alvaro Uribe, who was barred from running for a third-term by constitutional restrictions.

With the Marxist rebels of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) still fighting a civil war after nearly five decades, Sunday's voting was not without violence, despite the deployment of 350,000 police and soldiers to keep the peace.

At least 16 people were killed over the weekend in rebel attacks, government officials said. The dead were seven police officers, three soldiers and six FARC guerillas.

Nine FARC members were captured in the port city of Buenaventura, authorities said.

Uribe has maintained a hard line against FARC throughout his two terms in office.