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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 April, 2004, 17:30 GMT 18:30 UK
Bill could give Uribe fresh term
Alvaro Uribe
Mr Uribe's tough policies have won him popularity
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe could have four more years to continue his hardline crackdown on insurgents under proposals newly submitted to Congress.

Mr Uribe's tough stance against leftist rebels and right-wing paramilitaries has given him approval ratings of 80%, despite human rights groups' concerns.

But he is due to leave office in 2006 and is barred from standing again.

Now moves are afoot to change the constitution and allow presidents to serve two four-year terms in a row.

A bill due to be debated by the Colombian Congress would allow not only Mr Uribe, but also other former presidents to run for a second term in office.

On Wednesday, Interior Minister Sabas Pretelt de la Vega gave it the government's formal endorsement, saying Colombian democracy was mature enough to allow re-election.

He told Congress: "Perfect democracy offers citizens all possible options, and one of those is to choose between continuity and change."

But not all politicians agree. Opponents of the move say re-election has generally been shunned by Latin American countries, because of fears of corruption and electoral fraud.

Although countries including Brazil and Venezuela have decided in recent years to overturn laws preventing sitting presidents from running again, the idea remains controversial elsewhere in the region.

A previous attempt to change the law in Mr Uribe's favour was rejected by a Senate commission in October last year.

Profile: Alvaro Uribe Velez
25 Oct 03  |  Americas
Country profile: Colombia
14 Feb 04  |  Country profiles
Q&A: Colombia's civil conflict
06 May 03  |  Americas

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