Colombia lower house approves referendum on allowing third presidential term

[JURIST] The Colombian House of Representatives [official website, in Spanish] on Tuesday voted 85-5 [official results, DOC, in Spanish] to approve a bill [text, PPS, in Spanish] to hold a referendum on whether President Alvaro Uribe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] can run for a third presidential term. There were 76 abstentions. To pass the bill, 83 votes were necessary, and one of the additional votes came from a representative who had vowed to abstain [El Heraldo report, in Spanish] from voting because of a preliminary investigation into his actions in the 2004 voting process on the constitutional amendment that allowed Uribe to run for a second term. The bill will now have to be evaluated within the next 90 days by the Constitutional Court [official website, in Spanish]. Also Tuesday, the Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish] of Colombia issued a decision [El Heraldo report, in Spanish] to continue investigating 86 members of Congress for alleged irregularities and receiving political favors during the 2004 voting process and for ties to paramilitary forces. On Wednesday, a leading conservative senator accused of receiving political favors in 2004 turned himself in [Telam report, in Spanish] after the Supreme Court issued an arrest warrant for him on Tuesday. The opposition and members of academia have decried [press release, PDF, in Spanish] the proposed referendum as a severe damage to democracy, and some Uribe supporters have also spoken against the measure. Uribe has not officially announced whether he would run for re-election if the referendum results were in favor of allowing a third term.

The Colombian Senate [official website] in May approved [press release, in Spanish; JURIST report] a proposal to hold a referendum on amending the country's constitution [text, in Spanish] to allow for a third presidential term. Uribe was elected to a second term in 2006 after a similar referendum, approved by Congress [NYT report] in December 2004 and the Constitutional Court [JURIST report] in October 2005, lifted the original one-term limit. In June 2008, the Colombian Supreme Court ruled [AP report] 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 [JURIST report] on the election.



 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.