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Colombian Minister Resigns

May 24, 2001

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BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ Economic development minister Augusto Ramirez Ocampo resigned Thursday and announced he would run for president as a member of President Andres Pastrana’s Conservative Party.

The move was expected in advance of the May 2002 elections. Colombian law requires Cabinet ministers to leave their posts a year before the vote if they intend to be a candidate.

The Conservative Party will hold a convention this year to announce its standard-bearer. The party is seen as facing an uphill battle to hold onto the presidency. The government’s popularity has plummeted since Pastrana’s 1998 election amid high unemployment and faltering peace talks.

Ramirez Ocampo is a former Bogota mayor, foreign minister, and U.N. peacekeeping representative in Central America.

Pastrana named his general secretary, Eduardo Pizano, to replace Ramirez Ocampo as Minister of Economic Development.

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