Thursday, September 3, 2009

Uribe clears hurdle

Not everybody agrees, but Alvaro Uribe has cleared one hurdle toward getting reelected.

Colombia's Congress passed a bill allowing President Alvaro Uribe to seek a third consecutive term, a move that increases the likelihood that he will join a wave of Latin American leaders trying to stay in office.

Mr. Uribe's drive for another four-year term echoes similar moves by a group of leftist Latin leaders. The Colombian's bête noir, Venezuela's Hugo Chávez, has been in power a decade and changed the constitution to allow himself to run for re-election indefinitely. Ecuador's Rafael Correa and Bolivia's Evo Morales have changed their national charters to allow re-election.

A move to change the constitution and allow re-election led the Honduran Supreme Court and military to oust President Manuel Zelaya in June.

Supporters of the Colombian president say he is much more of a democrat than, for instance, Mr. Chávez, who has gutted Venezuela's democratic institutions with moves such as stacking the courts. Critics say a third term would allow Mr. Uribe to dominate Colombia's traditionally independent institutions. For example, another term would allow him to name the majority of the members of the Constitutional Court.

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