Constitutional court rejects Uribe’s bid to run for third term
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Colombia’s constitutional court on Friday rejected a referendum approved by Congress that would have asked voters to amend the constitution to allow President Alvaro Uribe to seek a third consecutive term in office.
AFP - Colombia's Constitutional Court on Friday announced it rejected a bid by President Alvaro Uribe for a third consecutive term in office.
Uribe, Washington's closest ally in South America, was first elected in 2002 and easily re-elected in 2006 after a sympathetic Congress amended the constitution to let him run for a second term.
But the constitution only allows for one re-election, so to run again the popular Uribe had to secure another constitutional amendment.
Lead justice Mauricio Gonzalez announced that the high court rejected the constitutionality of a referendum that would have asked voters to amend the constitution to allow presidents to have a third term in office.
Gonzalez in his ruling said the law calling for such a referendum included "substantial violations to the democratic principle."
"It is not a matter of mere... irregularities," he added.
The no-nonsense Uribe, 57, is credited with a successful law-and-order program and has an approval rating near 70 percent. More than 80 percent of Colombians said in a December poll that they would have supported Uribe if he was able to run for a third term.
The first round of voting in Colombia's presidential election is set for May 30, and there is no clear front-runner.
Uribe, an attorney and supporter of free-market policies, is popular largely thanks to his US-backed campaign against the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas and for helping usher the country towards its best economic performances in 30 years.
The FARC, Latin America's oldest and largest insurgency, has been battling the Colombian government for four decades.
Uribe opponents say the military's success has been accompanied by a rise in human rights violations and that the president's economic strategy only benefits big business.