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Colombians Give Uribe High Marks - 2004-01-18

A new public opinion poll in Colombia indicates that President Alvaro Uribe's is the country's most popular politician in a decade.

A Gallup poll published Saturday in the daily El Colombiano newspaper shows Mr. Uribe's approval rating in December rose to 80 percent, the highest figure for any Colombian president in the past 10 years and the first ever to enjoy such popularity a year into his tenure.

Soaring approval comes despite one of the biggest political setbacks of Mr. Uribe's career - the defeat of a referendum in which he proposed political reforms and spending controls.

Polls show voters admire the president's firm stance in combating drugs, illegal armed groups, crime, and corruption.

The Gallup poll surveyed 1,000 people in four major cities - Bogota, Medellin, Cali and Barranquilla - from mid- to late December.

A previous Gallup poll in October showed 75 percent of Colombians approved of Mr. Uribe's performance as president.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.