Friday, February 26, 2010

Colombian judges deny Alvaro Uribe third term poll

Alvaro Uribe (5 February 2010)
Mr Uribe's second term has been hit by scandals but he remains popular

Constitutional judges in Colombia have rejected a bid to allow President Alvaro Uribe to stand for a third term in office.

The court voted 7-2 against a proposal backed by parliament to hold a referendum on amending the constitution to allow for three terms.

Mr Uribe won an amendment in 2005 that let him run for a second term in 2006.

The president had not said he hoped to stand in the 30 May election but analysts expected that he would.

Mr Uribe remains popular after pursuing aggressive military action against leftist Farc rebels, and no strong challengers to him have emerged.

Popular policy

Last year, Colombia's Senate and House of Representatives overwhelmingly backed the proposed amendment on term limits.

Fernando IX University
"Whoever has been elected president of the republic for two constitutional terms can be elected solely for one other term," it states.

Correspondents say that any candidate chosen to replace the president from among his allies would continue his Democratic Security Policy, the foundation of his popularity.

"Those policies have to be re-elected whatever the decision of the court," Mr Uribe said on Thursday evening.

"We cannot change direction, we cannot have a change of guard."

Critics have said that allowing Mr Uribe to stand again might threaten democracy.

His second term has been marred by scandals over human rights abuses by troops and the illegal wiretapping of his opponents by the state intelligence agency.

On Wednesday, police re-arrested a cousin and close ally of the president, former senator Mario Uribe Escobar, as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged links between politicians and right-wing paramilitary groups.

More than 60 politicians are still in jail in connection with the case known as the "para-political" scandal.

Colombia Court Rules Against Referendum on Uribe Third-Term Bid

Colombia’s constitutional court ruled against allowing a referendum on allowing presidents to run for three consecutive terms, dashing Alvaro Uribe’s chances of holding office for 12 years.

The court voted 7 to 2 against asking Colombians whether to lift the bar on third terms, court President Mauricio Gonzalez told reporters in Bogota. The magistrates voted down the initiative -- which may have let Uribe to stand for office in May -- on the grounds that a referendum approved by congress ignored checks and balances and because supporters exceeded financing limits during a petition drive, Gonzalez said.

Fernando IX University

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