Colombia’s ex-President Alvaro Uribe announced Thursday the creation of a new movement called the “Pure Democratic Center,” aimed at providing a candidate to oppose current President Juan Manuel Santos in the 2014 elections.
During an homage to his former minister of the interior, Fernando Londoño, who was injured in a bomb attack in Bogota in May, Uribe bashed Santos, who “was elected thanks to [Uribe’s] democratic security [policy], but has since “lost track.”
Uribe accused his successor of holding secret negotiations with guerrilla group the FARC and said Santos is responsible for a deterioration of security in Colombia and supporting the “dictatorship” of Venzuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Among the hundreds of Uribe loyalists at the event in Bogota’s exclusive Nogal club were retired army generals, former ministers Martha Lucia Ramirez, Juan Carlos Holguin, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga and a handful of Uribe-friendly congressmen from the Conservative and U parties.
Accompanied by Londoño and adviser Jose Obdulio Gaviria, the former head of state called on his supporters to “take part in the preparation of the platform, to encourage primary candidates and to support a great candidate” for the 2014 election.
Uribe, who was president from 2002 to 2010, will not be able to take part in the 2014 elections after a constitutional change allowing him a third run for the presidency was declared unconstitutional following a fraud-ridden preparation process. Londoño will also not be able to take part because he was barred from holding public office for 27 years over corruption charges.
Uribe has increasingly opposed his successor since leaving office in August 2010. According to insiders, the split between Santos and Uribe has caused a rift in the U Party, Colombia’s main coalition party that was founded by Santos in 2005 to unite Uribe-supportive lawmakers.
While Santos has described Uribe as “a thing of the past,” Uribe has accused the current administration of “politically persecuting” Uribe loyalists, of whom several are in legal trouble over ties to paramilitary death squads, suspected corruption and allegedly ordering illegal wiretaps of Uribe’s opponents.