Despite the fact that some close to the Presidency still believe
Colombia’s president Alvaro Uribe can be re-elected in 2010, the
reality is that the referendum needed to accomplish a re-election is dead,
the weekly magazine Semana concluded on Sunday.
Interior and Justice Minister Fabio Valencia Cossio, appointed by Uribe to lead the referendum through Congress, and Rodrigo Rivera and Luis Guillermo Giraldo, responsible for the organization of the referendum outside Congress, are the only ones who explicitly believe the referendum is still alive.
In Congress, the magazine claims, no one bet a peso the referendum will make it on time, if it gets passed at all.
Uribe has four months, until November 30, to announce his candidacy. However, the referendum must be approved by a Congressional committee and the Constitutional Court, then it must be organized and held, and finally the vote needs to be approved by the Registry. Four months will not be enough, Semana says.
In 2004, when Uribe’s first re-election was approved by Congress, it took the Constitutional Court three months to rule that the bill was constitutional. The Registry is also expected to require three months to count and verify the votes submitted in the referendum before coming to a conclusion.
To ensure the possibility for a re-election, the referendum needs the judicial entities to go through a six to eight month process in only four months.
Three things have weakened the government’s domination of Congress, the weekly says.
- Coalition party Cambio Radical breached the deal with the government and other coalition parties and voted for different presidents for the House of Representatives and Congress than previously agreed upon, weakening and morally harming the unity within the coalition.
- The trial against former Congresswomen Yidis Medina, who was sentenced for voting in favor of the previous re-election after having been promised political favors by the government, has made both government and Congress almost allergic to the appearance of bribery, ruling out any deals made in dark corners of Congress.
- The Supreme Court’s investigation into the possibly illegal approval of this referendum in the House of Representatives has nearly paralyzed the coalition, whose 86 Representatives under investigation now fear being suspended.
Meanwhile, Uribe supporters are becoming increasingly restless and disobedient.
The Partido de la U, Uribe’s most loyal party in Congress, demanded the resignation of Valencia Cossio for mismanaging the referendum. Within the party, Senator Armando Benedetti called on Juan Manuel Santos to return to Colombia to set things straight within the party after clashing with party president Luis Carlos Restrepo.
Despite Uribe’s enviable popularity after seven years of governing, the ruling parties will need to prepare alternative candidates and Uribe, despite his efforts to see his third term approved and having gained a lot of gray hairs in doing so, will have to accept a standing ovation for his achievements, when handing over the Presidency to the 40th President of the Republic of Colombia.