Following a bribery scandal, The Colombian president (photo, from bbc.co.uk) has called for a referendum on whether to hold new presidential elections.
After the nation’s supreme court ordered a review of the law, allowing him to seek re-election in 2006, Alvaro Uribe said he would ask the Colombian congress for the decision.
The court made the decision after the conviction of a politician who confessed she was bribed by the government in order to vote for the measure.
Since her confession, Yidis Medina has been sentenced to 47 months in prison. She alleged that, in exchange for her vote, senior government members offered her supporters jobs.
Alvaro Uribe said that the court was trying to pressure his government, picking and choosing were to apply justice, eroding presidential powers with its rulings. The Colombian president won the election with 62 per cent of the vote.
Aware of the bribes
On Thursday, in a nationally televised address, the conservative leader said :“This high court’s justices have lent themselves to a power [struggle] which seems not to have a legal solution”.
Though the president and his ministers have denied any wrongdoing, Ms Medina said that president Uribe was aware of the bribes.
Teodolindo Avendano’s vote, another legislator, also arrested over the bribery allegations, and Ms Medina’s vote, helped push the election bill through.
Even though Colombia is the White House’s closest ally in Latin America, as the scandal, and Mr Uribe’s response, have upset local financial markets, it could further complicate the passing of a trade deal with the US.
Alvaro Uribe’s closest congressional allies are linked to paramilitary death squads in investigations, on top of which comes the bribery scandal.
Dozens of members of president Uribe’s coalition are accused of using death squads in order to intimidate voters.
Mr Uribe was “a dictator using the army or the police as a means to make things happen the way he wants them to happen”, said Carlos Gaviria, a left-wing challenger to Uribe in the 2006 poll.
Senator Gustavo Petro, of the left-wing Democratic Alternative Pole party, has accused Alvaro Uribe of “buying lawmakers to secure a particular interest”.
But according to opinion polls which put his popularity approval ratings running at 80 per cent, analysts said Mr Uribe could easily extend his time in office by winning another election.
“This is his way of taking the momentum back from the court. It’s a brilliant counterpunch”, said Mauricio Romero, a political science professor at Bogota’s Javeriana University.