Colombia's Santos names ex-police chief Naranjo as VP choice


 Reuters International

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos attends a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni during a meeting at Chigi Palace in Rome December 16, 2016. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

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BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos named former national police chief and peace negotiator General Oscar Naranjo as his pick to replace Vice President German Vargas Lleras, who is expected to stand down to pursue the presidency.

Santos, whose second four-year term ends next year and who is barred from running again, said in an interview with Caracol Radio on Thursday that Naranjo would be named vice president once Vargas Lleras leaves office in March to campaign. Congress would need to approve any change for the vice presidency.

Vargas Lleras has not announced his resignation, but his exit has been anticipated for months.

Naranjo, 60, was part of the government negotiating team in Havana that worked for four years to clinch a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, rebels. The accord reached late last year has ended the 52-year war, and guerrillas are making their way to camps across the nation to hand in their weapons.

The general "has served his country his entire life," said Santos, 65. "He's someone whose loyalty is proven. He's someone who has earned the respect of all Colombians and the world."

Naranjo served as head of the national police force between 2007 and 2012.

Vargas Lleras has focused much of his work as vice president on infrastructure, spearheading projects to improve roadways and build subsidized housing for the poor.

(Reporting by Helen Murphy; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn; Editing by Julia Symmes Cobb and Lisa Von Ahn)

Reuters

 Reuters International