Colombia’s Senate on Wednesday
passed a bill calling for a referendum to ask voters if they
want to change the constitution to allow President
Alvaro Uribe to run for a third term next year.
The bill passed with 56 votes in favor and two against and is a victory for Interior and Justice Minister Fabio Valencia Cossio who had been in charge of pushing the referendum through Congress, but was increasingly receiving criticism for the delays and fears the referendum would not make it through Congress.
The opposition, consisting of the Liberal Party and Polo Democratico, decided to not take part in the vote.
“We will not take part in the massacre of the constitution of ’91,” Senator Juan Manuel Galan (Liberal Party) said before withdrawing.
The measure now goes to the House of Representative for what is
expected to be a tight vote next week.
Uribe, Washington’s top South American ally in the fight
against drug trafficking, has not said publicly whether he
wants to run again. But his government is lobbying hard for the
Colombia’s next presidential election is in May.