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Last Updated: Friday, 18 June, 2004, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK
Uribe nearer to re-election bid
President Alvaro Uribe during a military ceremony in June 2004
Uribe says he needs a second term to complete his programme
A bill to allow Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe to stand for a second term has passed another hurdle in Congress.

The bill was approved by 92 to six, in the fourth of eight votes in the House of Representatives.

The bill would amend the constitution to allow President Uribe to stand for a second consecutive four-year term.

Polls suggest the move is supported by most Colombians but it is opposed by some lawmakers, who say it would encourage corruption.

They taped their mouths shut to protest Thursday's vote.

The victory "reflects the majority of Congress, and the majority of public opinion," said interior and justice minister Sabas Pretelt de la Vega, according to Efe news agency.


The bill - which was approved by the Senate on 14 May - has now been approved by the lower House of Representatives.

It faces another round of four votes when Congress reconvenes on 20 July after recess.

Its passage through the lower house was interrupted on Thursday when about 60 lawmakers stormed out of the chamber, only to return with their mouths taped shut.

They were complaining about a decision not to broadcast the vote on television or allow further debate on the bill.

"We have taped our mouths shut to symbolise that we don't feel the rules of the debate over this bill have been clean and clear," said a spokesman for the bill's opponents, Joaquin Jose Vives.

Mr Uribe's perceived hardline stance against left-wing rebel groups and right-wing paramilitary groups is popular among Colombians weary of the country's four-decade civil war, says BBC regional analyst Robert Plummer.

Polls suggest some 80% of Colombians support changing the constitution to allow him to stand for a second four-year term.

But our correspondent adds that concerns over the bill reflect the traditional reluctance of Latin American societies to give too much power to individual leaders, given the continent's historical experience of dictatorships.

Bill could give Uribe fresh term
15 Apr 04  |  Americas
Blow to Uribe's re-election hopes
29 Apr 04  |  Americas
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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