Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said that whether or not he is re-elected is in God’s hands, and that he did not want future generations to think that he clung to power, reported newspaper El Espectador.
When asked about the review process of the re-election legislation that could see him elected for a third consecutive term, President Alvaro Uribe told international press that “it depends basically on three elements: firstly, on the Constitutional Court; secondly, on the Colombian people who will go to the polls; and third, the hand of God.”
The amendment of the Constitution for a second time to permit Uribe to run for a third term is something that worries even his most ardent supporters, reports daily El Tiempo, and has the President himself at a “crossroads of the soul.”
“When I think of my legacy, I don’t want future Colombian generations to think that I was attached to power. At the same time, I want them to know that I did not turn my back on my country’s challenges,” Uribe told Britain’s Financial Times. Yet he went on to say that he “[belongs] to a generation that has not known a single day of peace. My priority is the continuation of my political dynamic.”
When asked if he had a succession plan, Uribe responded “sure… I’d like to find a clone of Thomas Jefferson.”
If he decided to run again, said the newspaper, he is sure to win, but would risk being “just another Latin American leader with a questionable record on human rights.”
On a recent visit to Washington, President Obama reminded Uribe that George Washington retired gracefully after serving two terms in the White House, and setting an important precedent for the young Republic.
However, Uribe’s successes were not diminished: kidnappings have fallen by 88 per cent, and FARC members are increasingly taking refuge in neighboring Venezuela or even turning themselves in. There has been a surge in investment, lowered inflation and rising growth. In fact, Colombia is predicting a 2.5 per cent growth next year and has handled the global economic crisis better than most countries.
However, Juan Carlos Echeverry, a conservative economist and former economic planning minister in a previous administration, said that the re-election referendum is a terrible mistake.
“The quality of institutions will be damaged permanently. This will be a precedent we will be 100 years trying to undo; every president from now on will try to do the Uribe jump – go for the second and try to do the third.”