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Next President J.M.Santos and Alvaro Uribe, a complex relationship.

Colombian presidential candidate Juan Manuel Santos may coast to victory in this weekend’s runoff election. A bigger challenge in office will be escaping the shadow of the kingmaker who helped get him there: President Alvaro Uribe.

Santos, who as Uribe’s defense minister delivered some of the biggest blows in Colombia’s five-decade fight against Marxist rebels, won 47 percent of first-round votes May 30 against 21 percent for the Green Party’s Antanas Mockus. Santos was supported by 66.5 percent of those interviewed in a Gallup Colombia poll taken June 5 to June 7, compared with 27.4 percent for Mockus, a two-time Bogota mayor.

“One of Santos’ great challenges will be building autonomy from Uribe without losing the benefits of being associated with him,” said Elisabeth Ungar, director of Transparency for Colombia, a Bogota-based anti-corruption group.

Uribe has an approval rating above 60 percent after eight years in office, credited with cutting kidnapping by 93 percent and boosting foreign investment five-fold to a record $10.6 billion in 2008.

With his legacy as one of Colombia’s most popular presidents assured, the 57-year-old lawyer may not be content…READ MORE HERE.