Santos stepped in to diffuse escalating tensions after Uribe and Liberal Party heavyweight Gaviria began to trade insults, following Gaviria’s announcement that he will back his former Trade Minister Santos’ bid for the presidency.
Gaviria, a fierce critic of the Uribe administration, reportedly told the head of state that his government is “truly disgusting” during a three minute phonecall.
The former leader was responding to gibes published on Uribe’s Twitter account, in which the president labelled Gaviria as “opportunistic” for backing Santos.
Santos released a statement in which he thanked Gaviria for his support and defended Uribe against criticisms of his administration, saying he felt proud to have served in it as defense minister.
The Partido de la U candidate called for Colombia to “look towards the future to a government of national unity and not get caught up in unimportant and fruitless past debates.”
“We are going to build national unity without looking back. We will only look back to express gratitude or draw on virtues that inspire us,” Santos wrote.
Gaviria has been highly critical of Uribe throughout his eight year rule, during which the Liberal Party has been in opposition. As Uribe’s unofficial heir, Santos represents continuity of the current administration.
Santos will face-off against Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus in the election this Sunday. In Colombia’s first round presidential election Santos came first with 46.57% of the vote, followed by Mockus with 21.47%. Because no candidate gained the majority vote required to win the election outright, Santos and Mockus will face-off in a second round election on June 20.
The latest voter poll indicates that Santos will win the second round run-off with with 65%, while Mockus will win 28% of the votes.