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Leftist leads in Bogota mayor's race as voting ends violent campaign season

Leftist leads in Bogota mayor's race as voting ends violent campaign season

The leftist grandson of a military dictator was poised to become Bogota's next mayor, considered Colombia's second-most important elected office, as local and regional elections ended free of the violence that had plagued campaigning.
With 61 percent of the ballots counted, Samuel Moreno of the Alternative Democratic Pole had 43 percent support comared to 30 percent for his main challenger, former independent Mayor Enrique Penalosa, according to the election council.
Heavy rains appeared to lower turnout at the polls, as Colombians cast votes in 32 gubernatorial, 1,098 mayoral and thousands of lesser races nationwide. There were no immediate reports of violence.
Bogota's current mayor belongs to Moreno's party and consecutive wins there could boost the Alternative Democratic Pole's standing ahead of a 2010 presidential election. Bogota, with nearly 7 million people, is home to a sixth of Colombia's population.
Moreno shrugged off controversy throughout his campaign, emerging ahead despite support from a Web site sympathetic to left-wing guerrillas and a televised debate in which he agreed he'd buy 50 votes if he knew his rival had purchased 50,000.
A statement Friday by President Alvaro Uribe was widely interpreted as plea to reject Moreno. "Don't make a mistake in electing mayors supported by guerrillas who also buy votes," Uribe said.
Voting unfolded without apparent violence. Gen. Freddy Padilla, commander of Colombia's armed forces, said 170,000 soldiers and police had been deployed to guard polls, capping off a campaign season in which some 30 candidates were killed, according to the U.N. High Commission for Human Rights.
The government also restricted people's right to carry weapons and banned the sale of alcohol until Monday morning.
Bogota, which had been spared campaign violence, was tense over the weekend, and witnesses reported hearing an explosion on the city's outskirts Saturday night. Police and bomb squad members rushed to the area, but found nothing.


Updated : 2021-10-18 14:52 GMT+08:00