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After Colombia election win, Juan Manuel Santos seeks to build on Uribe era

Juan Manuel Santos won the Colombia election yesterday with 69 percent of the vote – a clear mandate to continue the security policies of his predecessor Álvaro Uribe. But he also inherits Uribe-era scandals.

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President-elect Juan Manuel Santos waves as he gives his victory speech after winning the Colombia election runoff in Bogota Sunday. Santos defeated Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus.

AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos

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In Colombia's presidential elections on Sunday, Juan Manuel Santos secured an overwhelming mandate to continue the strong security policies of his popular predecessor, Álvaro Uribe. “This is also your victory, President Uribe,” said Mr. Santos, calling him one of the "best presidents" in Colombia's history.

But in order to lead effectively, Santos must quickly stamp his own mark on government, political analysts say. In particular, he must address the concerns of millions who voted for runner-up Antanas Mockus, a former mayor of Bogotá promising change in Colombia's corrupt political culture that led to numerous scandals under Uribe.

“The time has come for national unity, the time has come for harmony, the time has come for us to work together for the prosperity of Colombia,” Santos told a crowd of cheering supporters gathered in a sports stadium in Bogotá. He won 69 percent of the vote, while Mr. Mockus, running on the Green Party ticket, won 27.5 percent.

In a preelection interview, Santos said his government would be different from Uribe’s in priorities and style. Uribe’s folksy manner won Colombians over in weekly town hall meetings throughout the country where he would micromanage even the smallest problems presented to him. Santos, from an elite Bogotá family, prefers to delegate.

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