Colombia’s senate approves referendum on extending presidential term limits

The Colombian Senate on May 19 approved a proposal to hold a referendum on amending the country’s constitution to allow for a third presidential term. Passed by a vote of 62-5, the measure would allow current two-term Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to seek a third presidential term in 2010, although a similar proposal passed in the Chamber of Representatives last year would require Uribe to postpone a third term until 2014. The two proposals must be reconciled in a conference committee and be approved by the Constitutional Court before the referendum can take place.

Uribe was elected to a second term in 2006 after a similar referendum, approved by Congress in December 2004 and the Constitutional Court in October 2005, lifted the original one-term limit. Last June, the Colombian High Court ruled that a legal inquiry should be held into the election after it found that a legislator had been bribed to help push through the constitutional changes. In response, Uribe called for a referendum on the election. (Jurist, May 20)

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