(Photo: Partido de la U)

Initially cofounded by President Juan Manuel Santos, Colombia’s U Party (Partido de La U) officially endorsed the incumbent Tuesday to run for a second term in office in the 2014 presidential elections.

The head of state accepted the nomination during a U Party assembly in the Bogota convention center.

This announcement, not to be confused with Santos’ November speech where he declared that he intended to seek a second term in office, signals the official start of the president’s campaign for reelection.

MOREPresident Juan Manuel Santos to seek reelection in 2014

“I receive this nomination with honor, humility and immense gratitude. I believe in the rule of law. I believe in peace. I give you thanks, many thanks for your support and we will continue moving forward, continue with the task of optimism, because the new Colombia we are building is coming over the horizon as we speak. We continue for victory, we continue for four more years,” Santos was quoted as saying by W Radio.

With his party’s backing now firmly in place, posters, billboards, TV spots, etc. will be coming out shortly in anticipation of the 2014 presidential elections, scheduled for May 25.

Santos, however, told the assembled crowd that the responsibility handed to him extends beyond generating votes, according to W Radio.

“We didn’t build the National Unity [U Party] to win elections; it wasn’t a coalition to win but rather to govern and it has given us this ability to enact the large reforms we have managed,” Santos was quoted as saying, mentioning the Victim’s Law — which provides channels for the restitution of land stolen during the armed conflict, but has been marred by delays and inefficiency — as one of the signature achievements of his first term.

The “Social Party of National Unity” (Partido Social de La Unidad Nacional), was formed in 2005 in part by Juan Manuel Santos as a coalition of liberals and conservatives from the time (Santos was originally a member of the Liberal Party before forming the Partido de La U). The party was initially intended to bolster support for former President Alvaro Uribe. For a time, Santos shared the directorship of the Partido de La U with Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, currently the primary opposing presidential candidate from Uribe’s new party, the Democratic Center (Centro Democratico).

Juan Manuel Santos would go on to leave his leadership position within the party to become Uribe’s Minister of Defense, but would gain the full backing of the party in 2010 when he ran for Colombia’s presidency after the nation’s Constitutional Court ruled that Uribe could not run for a third term.

PROFILE: Juan Manuel Santos

The candidates just continue to come following this week’s conservative party nomination of Marta Lucia Ramirez to run for Colombia’s highest office. This puts the total at 5 confirmed candidates: Oscar Ivan Zuluaga for the Democratic Center party, Clara Lopez for the Democratic Pole (Polo Democratico), Marta Lucia Ramirez for the Conservative Party (Partido Conservador), Aidia Avella for the Patriotic Union (Union Patriotica), and Juan Manuel Santos for the U Party. A liberal alliance of parties have yet to announce their candidate.

Despite a crowded field, Santos still holds a comfortable lead in the polls.

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