International Crisis Group | 12/18/2009 12:00:00 AM
Uribe's Possible Third Term and Conflict Resolution in Colombia
Dec 18--Colombia’s efforts to resolve its half-century armed conflict and growing tensions with neighbours will be shaped by the decision on whether to change the constitution to enable President Álvaro Uribe to seek a second re-election in May 2010. This issue has dominated Colombian politics for over a year.
To enable Uribe’s second re-election, a new constitutional amendment must be approved by referendum. A law governing such a referendum was adopted on 1 September 2009. The Constitutional Court is reviewing the new law with respect to both procedures and constitutionality. Its decision whether Uribe can stand for a third term is expected to come only weeks or even days before the March 2010 legislative elections. If the referendum is authorised, passage requires participation by a quarter of the electorate of about 29 million voters and a majority of affirmative votes. Uribe would then have to win re-election in the general poll. The president has avoided publicly discussing a third term but has hinted at standing in 2010 to ensure continuation of his political project, in particular the security policy.
After more than seven years in power, including re-election in 2006 with the benefit of a constitutional amendment that allowed him to stand again, Uribe’s flagship security policy geared at defeating the insurgent FARC and ELN continues to be strongly supported by broad sectors in the country. However, the security environment is changing, as new illegal armed groups (NIAGs) emerge, some paramilitaries persist, the insurgents adapt to government military strategies, and efforts to combat drug trafficking that funds the insurgency and other armed groups achieve partial results but no breakthrough. Thus, the current security approach needs to be reviewed and adjusted by whomever sits in the presidential office for the next four years.
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