Ex-guerrilla leads Uruguay vote

MONTEVIDEO: Former guerrilla leader Jose Mujica won the lion's share of the vote in Uruguay's presidential election but will face a runoff after falling short of outright victory, results showed Monday.

Mujica, a 74-year-old who was imprisoned several times and tortured under Uruguay's brutal 1973-1985 dictatorship, earned 47.49 percent of the vote in Sunday's first round.

His opponent in the November 29 runoff will be 68-year-old former president Luis Lacalle, the candidate of the conservative National Party who garnered 28.53 percent.

Although Mujica enjoyed a healthy lead over his nearest rival in the first round, analysts predicted that Lacalle could win over a significant number of supporters from center-right candidate Pedro Bordaberry, who finished third on Sunday with 16.66 percent of the vote.

If Mujica wins the November runoff, he would become only the second former guerrilla to take power through the ballot box in Latin America, following Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega.

He would be expected to continue left-wing economic policies introduced by outgoing President Tabare Vazquez, who ended his five-year term on a wave of popularity but is constitutionally barred from reelection.

Mujica's guerrilla past is frowned upon by many conservatives in this small, temperate nation of 3.4 million people wedged between Argentina and Brazil.