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Former Defense Minister Wins Colombian Presidential Runoff


Juan Manuel Santos has won an overwhelming victory in Colombia's runoff presidential election, making him the successor to two-term President Alvaro Uribe.

Mr. Santos, a former defense minister, has pledged to continue Mr. Uribe's fight against illegal drug trafficking and leftist rebels.

The president-elect, who ran as the candidate of the National Unity party, won 69 percent of the vote, compared to nearly 28 percent won by his challenger, former Bogota mayor and Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus.

Police say election day violence Sunday left at least seven police officers dead when a roadside bomb in the country's northeast exploded near a patrol. Three soldiers died in fighting with guerrillas.

Security has been a central issue in the presidential race. Leftist rebels have been at war with the Colombian government for more than 45 years.

Sunday's runoff election followed the first round of balloting last month, in which Santos won 47 percent of the vote but fell just short of the simple majority needed to win outright in a field of nine candidates.

Santos campaigned on a promise to continue cracking down on the rebels. Mockus, a mathematician and philosopher, campaigned on a message of "clean politics."

Turnout was lighter Sunday than in the first round of voting on May 30. Experts cite Mr. Santos' strong lead in polls, as well as bad weather and competition from televised World Cup soccer matches.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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