Oil report

UPDATE 1-Independent Mockus leads Colombia election race-poll

(Adds details from poll, link to election stories)

BOGOTA, April 26 (Reuters) - Independent candidate Antanas Mockus leads the race for Colombia’s May presidential election with 38 percent of intended votes versus 29 percent for former defense minister Juan Manuel Santos, a poll said on Monday.

Mockus, a two-time Bogota mayor who is attracting votes with his campaign for clean government, has made a surprise jump in the race to succeed President Alvaro Uribe, a conservative U.S. ally popular for his tough line against rebels and his pro-business approach to investment.

Neither of the leading candidates has enough votes to win outright on May 30, but in a second round in June, Mockus would win 50 percent of the votes against 37 percent for Santos, according to the poll by Ipsos Napoleon Franco.

Candidates must secure more than 50 percent of the votes to win in the first round.


For more on the elections, click on [ID:nCOLOMBIA]


Mockus rose from 20 percent in the last poll, while Santos dipped from 30 percent, according to the survey of 1,203 eligible voters conducted April 24-25 with a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

Uribe remains popular for battering FARC guerrillas to their weakest in decades. Violence, bombing and kidnapping from Colombia’s long war have eased and foreign investment has flooded into the Andean country, especially in oil and mining.

But his government was also hit by scandals over ties between lawmakers and militia death squads, illegal spying by state agents on his critics and rights abuses and murders of civilians by the armed forces.

Santos, Uribe’s defense minister and member of a wealthy Bogota family, led polls until this week as he is closely associated with Colombia’s security successes. But Mockus, the son of Lithuanian immigrants, has climbed sharply with his promise to tackle corruption and social problems.

Investors expect whoever wins the presidency will maintain Uribe’s tough security and free-market policies. Polls show that Colombians are now more concerned with unemployment, poverty and economic development than with rebel violence. (Reporting by Patrick Markey, editing by Anthony Boadle)