Former President Alvaro Uribe was inaugurated into Colombia’s Senate on Sunday, but before the outspoken hardliner can assume his position atop the largest opposition bloc in Congress, he will first have to survive a debate regarding his alleged links to paramilitaries, according to local media.
Uribe, who had served in the Senate previously prior to his election and re-election as president in 2002 and 2006, respectively, is both the first two-term president and first former head of state in Colombian history to become a senator after occupying the presidency.
Founded by the former president, the Democratic Center (Centro Democratico) party managed to win 19 seats in the Senate during March 9 congressional elections, the second highest number after the 21 seats held by President Juan Manuel Santos‘ U Party (Partido de la U).
Santos was able to maintain a majority in congress through the governing coalition he has formed with most of the 17 senators from the split Conservative Party, the 17 senators of the Liberal Party, and nine of the Radical Change Party.
Uribe threw his support behind Jose David Name to be president of Congress, publicly announcing that he would vote for Name, according to El Espectador newspaper.
Name assured Uribe that he would have all the political guarantees and made known the great respect he has for the former president.
Debate over paramilitary links
Senator Ivan Cepeda from the Democratic Pole (Polo Democratico) Party announced Sunday to the Senate leadership his desire to have a debate regarding President Uribe’s alleged links to paramilitary groups and narcotrafficking groups.
At the senate’s first regular session on Thursday, Cepeda, along with Senator Claudia Lopez of the Green Party, intend to petition the Supreme Court to analyze which of the over 200 cases against Uribe can be transferred to the high tribunal.
“Many of the cases that accuse congressman Alvaro Uribe have not had any advancement in their investigation. This could be the opportunity for the judicial branch to review the cases,” declared Cepeda, according to the national El Espectador newspaper.
Uribe’s presidency coincided with the most intense period of paramilitary violence in Colombian history, and various officials and allies who served alongside the senator have been the subject of widespread accusations of “parapolitics.”
In 2006, Uribe oversaw the demobilization of the AUC paramilitary umbrella group, the country’s largest, which the Human Rights Watch has referred to as a “sham.”