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Colombian president Uribe’s re-re-election is “in God’s hands”

Tuesday, October 20th 2009 - 07:59 UTC
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“I’d like to find a close of Thomas Jefferson” says Uribe of his legacy “I’d like to find a close of Thomas Jefferson” says Uribe of his legacy

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said that whether he is re-elected for a third running mandate is “in God's hands”, but he does not want future generations to think that he was attached to power, reported Bogotá’s newspaper El Espectador.

When asked about the current review process on re-election legislation that could see him elected for a third consecutive term, President Alvaro Uribe told the 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 constitutional amendment opening the way for a second consecutive re-election and his third term in office has been criticized even by his staunchest allies and supporters, according to daily El Tiempo, and has President Uribe at a “crossroad 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 is quoted by London’s Financial Times.

Nevertheless he pointed out that “I belong to a generation that has not known a single day of peace; my priority is the continuation of my political dynamics“ which has been defined as democratic security.

When asked if he had a succession plan, Uribe responded ”sure... I'd like to find a clone of Thomas Jefferson.“

But the Financial Times points out that if Uribe decides to run again in 2010, he is sure to win, but would risk being remembered as ”just another Latinamerican 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 success as the most popular president in recent Colombian history is not to be brushed aside: kidnappings have fallen by 88% and the main rebel group FARC, which at one time controlled a fifth of Colombian territory, is now increasingly taking refuge in neighbouring Venezuela and a growing number of its members are turning in.

On the economic side there has been a surge in foreign and domestic investment as the security situation improves; lower inflation and steady growth have marked the almost eight years of his time in office.

Uribe claims that “private enterprise spirit” is the best and most efficient tool for economic growth and to combat poverty, which is a huge challenge for Colombia that has been suffering a serious internal armed conflict for over half a century.

“Other countries in the region also prefer private initiative and a strong private sector, but they don’t dare to support the idea publicly”, revealed Uribe.

Colombia is forecasting 2.5% growth next year and has handled the global economic crisis better than most countries, in spite of having as neighbour eclectic president Hugo Chavez from Venezuela which is a leading trade associate of Colombia.

However, Juan Carlos Echeverry, a conservative economist and former economic planning minister in a previous administration, said that the re-election referendum is a major political mistake.

“Institutions quality will be damaged permanently. This will be a precedent we will be 100 years trying to undo; every president from now on will try the Uribe leap for a third consecutive term”, he underlined.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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