Colombia's Senate Approves Uribe Bill

Aug 21--Colombia's Senate voted late Wednesday to pass a bill calling for a referendum on whether to change the constitution to allow President Alvaro Uribe to run for a third term.

The measure, which is to be voted on by the lower House next week, was approved 56-2 by senators after deputies from two opposition parties left the 102-member chamber. The opposition acknowledged earlier that they lacked the support to block the bill. (Read "U.S. Military Base Plan Puts Colombia in Hot Water.")

If the lower House approves the bill, it would then be submitted to the Constitutional Court, which would have three months to determine if the referendum was legal. Prospects for its passage through the lower House and Constitutional Court are uncertain.

The referendum would ask voters if Colombia should modify its constitution to allow presidents to run for two consecutive re-elections. The current constitution, which was already modified once to let Uribe run for a second four-year term, allows for a single immediate re-election.
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