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Colombia's Uribe urges voters to seek successor

Colombia's Uribe urges voters to seek successor

President Alvaro Uribe urged Colombians to begin looking for his successor, giving the strongest indication yet that the popular hardline leader will not back efforts by his supporters to give him an unprecedented third term.
"I do a greater service to the country promoting new leaders than trying to perpetuate myself in power," Uribe said Thursday in a speech.
Ever since his landslide re-election last year, Uribe's backers have hinted they may try to amend Colombia's constitution like they did in 2004 to extend his stay in office.
Critics have accused Uribe, Washington's staunchest ally in Latin America, of threatening Colombian democracy by refusing to unambiguously rule out a third four-year term.
Despite a scandal that has led more than a dozen of his congressional backers to be arrested for alleged ties to right-wing paramilitary groups, a Gallup poll this month showed Uribe with a 75 percent approval rating.
On Thursday he recommended that Colombians look for a successor who shares his zeal for combatting the nation's leftist rebels and cocaine cartels.
"I want to ask my compatriots to start thinking about the personality and character of who those who will run in 2010," Uribe said. "No hesitation, no flirting with the terrorists _ firmness and determination to defeat them, this is the only path to peace."
That's music to the ears of foreign investors who have rewarded his booming economy handsomely even while expressing concern his successor might not be as tough.
Uribe's comments come as President Hugo Chavez in neighboring Venezuela is pushing to rewrite the constitution to extend presidential terms from six to seven years and allow indefinite re-election.
In Bogota last week U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Reuben Jeffery III, distanced himself from the question of Uribe's re-election, saying it is "up to Colombians to decide who their leaders are."


Updated : 2021-07-26 13:54 GMT+08:00