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Latino Daily News

Saturday June 14, 2014

Colombia’s Santos Optimistic About Runoff Election

Colombia’s Santos Optimistic About Runoff Election

Photo: Juan Manuel Santos

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Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said Friday he feels good about his chances of winning a second term in this weekend’s runoff election, acknowledging that his campaign has been buoyed by new-found support from across the political spectrum.

“We are enthused and optimistic over all these endorsements we have received in these last two weeks, they are symptomatic, but the real result will be seen on Sunday,” the conservative incumbent said in an interview with RCN La Radio.

The presidential contest is confirming the old adage that politics makes strange bedfellows.

Colombia’s main business federation and the governing center-right National Unity coalition have been joined by labor unions, leftists and leaders of indigenous communities in rallying around Santos as he faces off against rightist Oscar Ivan Zuluaga.

The incumbent has sought to make peace the focus of the campaign.

Santos, who served as defense minister in the administration of hard-line predecessor Alvaro Uribe, embarked in November 2012 on a peace process with the nation’s largest insurgency, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which has battled a succession of governments for 50 years.

Zuluaga, Uribe’s protege, has expressed skepticism about the negotiations with the FARC, though he backed away from earlier threats to suspend the talks if he is elected.

Only 40 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the May 25 presidential election. Zuluaga finished first in a field of five candidates, with 29.26 percent of the vote, followed by Santos with 25.66 percent.

Santos predicted turnout will be higher for Sunday’s runoff.

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