Uribe an easy winner in Columbia

AP/NY Times:

Law-and-order President Alvaro Uribe was re-elected in a landslide Sunday in Colombia's most peaceful elections in more than a decade, strengthening the U.S. ally's mandate to crack down on armed groups and drug traffickers.

The Harvard-educated Uribe's win marks the first time in more than a century that an incumbent Colombian leader has been elected to a second term and bucks a trend of leftist leaders taking office across South America in recent years.

With 85 percent of ballots counted, the conservative Uribe scored a stronger than expected 62 percent of the vote, according to official results. He easily surpassed the 50 percent needed to win in the first round and exceeded pre-election expectations.

In second place, with 22 percent of the votes, was Sen. Carlos Gaviria of the leftist Alternative Democratic Pole party. Gaviria's strong support -- a record outcome for the left -- confirms the growing strength of the democratic left in this decidedly conservative South American nation. In third place was Horacio Serpa, of the century-old Liberal Party, with just below 12 percent.

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This has to be a big disappointment to Chavez and his leftist buddies.

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