FACTBOX-Colombia's leading candidates Mockus and Santos

Sun Jun 20, 2010 2:23pm GMT

June 20 (Reuters) - An anti-guerrilla crusader and an eccentric mathematician face off in Sunday's election to take over from incumbent President Alvaro Uribe in Latin America's No 4 oil producer.

Polls show former defense minister Juan Manuel Santos poised to win the run-off vote against Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus and continue with Uribe's security and free-market platform.

For full coverage, click on [ID:nCOLOMBIA].


The wealthy son of one of Colombia's most powerful families, Santos, 58, is the consummate political insider, a U.S.- and British-trained economist whose great-uncle, Eduardo Santos, also served as president. His cousin is the current vice president.

Santos is a staunch ally of Uribe and promises to keep up military pressure on leftist FARC guerrillas. He benefited from Uribe's popularity to win by a wide margin in a first-round vote that many pollsters had expected Mockus to lead on the back of corruption and spy scandals that tarnished the government.

Santos was editor of the country's top newspaper before moving into politics. He has held several posts in recent governments, including finance minister.

As defense minister under Uribe, Santos oversaw the military campaign that largely drove the leftist FARC rebels into remote hill and jungle regions -- major victories included the dramatic rescue of French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt along with three U.S. defense contractors held hostage by the guerrillas.

He was also in charge of a bombing raid in Ecuadorean territory that killed the FARC's No. 2 commander -- a huge blow to the rebels but also damaging to Colombia's relations with neighboring Ecuador and Venezuela.   Continued...

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