Colombia’s Congress on Wednesday agreed to eliminate the possibility of a presidential reelection in the final vote on a far-stretching political reform that seeks to restore the balance of powers.
In a 90-10 vote, Congress eliminated the presidential re-election possibility that had controversially been introduced in 2004 to allow the 2006 reelection of then-President Alvaro Uribe, but had fallen out of grace after prosecutors found out congressmen had been bribed by ministers to allow the reelection possibility.
Additionally, the presidential reelection caused a imbalance between the three branches of government as a reelected president during his eight years in office was able to propose candidates for high courts posts and the country’s Prosecutor General’s office, leading to an increase in centralized control of the executive branch over the judicial branch and congress.
Now-Senator Uribe and his conservative opposition party, the Democratic Center, opposed the “Balance of Powers Reform” initially proposed by the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos (U Party), who successfully sought his own reelection last year before seeking to ban the possibility.
The reform also banned other sitting government officials from running for president unless they resigned from their post one year before elections in order to avoid possible abuse of institutions for electoral purposes.
The Balance of Powers reform did not just seek the elimination of the presidential reelection, but also the creation of a “super court” that had the authority to try magistrates and justices belonging to national courts.
The super court was introduced as Constitutional Court president Jorge Pretelt became the center of controversy after his fellow-magistrates accused him of having sought bribes with an oil company that had challenged a fine.
Until now, no court had the authority to try officials of the judiciary branch’s top level and Pretelt has refused to resign from his post.
Following its passage in Congress, the constitutional court has to determine whether the bill is constitutional and becomes law, or whether it is dropped in its entirety.