October 31, 2001

Colombian launches campaign, faints during speech

                 BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- Presidential candidate Noemi Sanin launched
                 her campaign with a fiery speech in which she suggested one of her
                 opponents was corrupt and another a warmonger. She then fainted in the
                 tropical heat.

                 Sanin, a 52-year-old economist, was held up by aides after fainting at the podium
                 Tuesday night. She recovered two minutes later and resumed her speech in the
                 convention center of the Caribbean coastal city of Cartagena.

                 Sanin referred to leading candidate Horacio Serpa's past associations with former
                 President Ernesto Samper, who was accused of taking campaign contributions
                 from drug traffickers in 1994.

                 "No to the thieves and bandits," she exclaimed. Serpa, who had served as interior
                 minister under Samper, responded to Sanin's comments by noting he had been
                 exonerated of any wrongdoing.

                 Sanin referred to candidate Alvaro Uribe, an independent like herself, as the
                 "candidate of the right-wing." She said Uribe wanted all-out war to wipe out a
                 37-year leftist insurgency.

                 Uribe, a former mayor of Medellin, is considered a hard-liner against leftist rebels
                 and sympathetic to outlawed right-wing paramilitary squads.

                 Uribe rejected Sanin's comments, denying he is a warmonger.

                 Sanin, a former foreign minister, is running third behind Serpa and Uribe in polls
                 ahead of the presidential elections next May.

                  Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.