Chile's ruling party presidential hopeful steps aside

Laurence Golborne, who helped lead the high-profile rescue of Chilean miners to become the ruling party's hope in the November presidential vote, withdrew Monday as a potential candidate.

After Cencosud, a major retailer he led, faced a financial scandal, Golborne stepped aside and Economy Minister Pablo Longueira became the conservatives' standardbearer.

"I do not want to be an obstacle. And I hereby remove myself from consideration for any candidacy," Golborne said.

Though the court did not convict Golborne in the scandal, the company was ordered to pay a massive fine.

Conservatives are to hold a primary in June ahead of a November 17 presidential vote.

Former public works minister Golborne caught the world's attention during the successful rescue of 33 miners who became trapped underground near Copiapo in the north, in 2010.

Early polling showed Golborne, now an independent, had the highest support, around 8.8 percent, among conservates, yet well behind socialist ex-president Michelle Bachelet, who has about 43 percent support.

Bachelet, who held office from 2006 to 2010, was the first woman to lead the South American country.