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Sunday, May 28, 2006
By Steven L. Taylor

Today Colombians go to the polls to determine who will be their president for the 2006-2010 term (they had congressional elections in March). Here, then, in my final profile of the major candidates.

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    Álvaro Uribe

Uribe is the sitting President (an independent who used to be a member of PL). He has been arguably the most popular president in Colombian history-so much so that the constitution was amended to allow him to run for a second term. The 1991 constitution had limited presidents to one four-year term, and the previous constitution (that of 1886) had allowed only non-concurrent terms (hence, Uribe will not be the first president in Colombian history to serve two terms, but he will be the first to have back-to-back terms).

It is widely assumed that he will win outright today. The Colombian constitution requires 50% +1 to be elected president, failing that in the first round, the top two vote-getters would meet in four weeks. However, the likelihood is that, like in 2002, Uribe will only need one round to win.

Uribe was educated at the University of Antioquia (where his now-rival, Carlos Gavria, was one of his professors) and at Harvard. He also taught for a time at Oxford.

Politically he started out as a member of the Liberal Party, but ran as an independent in 2002.

Here are some highlights of his political career:

PL Senator 1986-1990, 1990-1991, 1991-1994
Alcalde de Medellín en 1982
concejal (Medellin) 84-86.
Gobernador de Antioquia 1995-1997.

Uribe has been an extremely strong ally of the US and of the Bush administration. Indeed, while Colombia has normally had excellent relations with the US, Uribe is perhaps the friendliest to the US of any Colombian president ever.

Some trivia: there have been numerous attempts on Uribe’s life, including one in 2002 when he was a candidate that involved a bomb hidden in a Bible.

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