Colombia’s vice president does not support an initiative by loyalists of former President Alvaro Uribe to amend the country’s constitution through a national constituent assembly, President Juan Manuel Santos said Thursday.
Confusion has ensued since Tuesday when reports surfaced that Vice President Angelino Garzon called U Party Senator Juan Carlos Velez, a loyalist of former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, to endorse the national constituent assembly.
Santos said in a press release that Garzon, who has been hospitalized for weeks over cerebrovascular complications, “said he does not support any constituent assembly.”
The assembly would be comprised of a committee of delegates chosen by the Colombian electorate, charged with making potential constitutional changes based on a majority vote. A constituent assembly has not been convoked in Colombia since 1991, which passed the country’s current constitution.
A national constituent assembly is one of only three mechanisms, along with a congressional vote and referendum, that may be employed to change Colombia’s constitution.
As various political interests stand to benefit from constitutional amendments, the exact purpose of the national constituent assembly is unknown. Critics of Alvaro Uribe have claimed a constitutional amendment would simply be a backdoor that would allow him a third tilt at the presidency. Uribe dismissed this idea Wednesday, calling it a “smokescreen” by his opponents.
Update (Friday 9:26AM)
Velez insisted on radio station La FM that Garzon does support the constituent assembly and said that Garzon’s position will be clear once the vice president publicly speaks out.