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Colombia senate approves referendum on extending presidential term limits

[JURIST] The Colombian Senate [official website] on Tuesday approved [press release, in Spanish] a proposal to hold a referendum on amending the country's constitution [text, in Spanish] to allow for a third presidential term. Passed by a vote of 62-5, the measure would allow current two-term Colombian President Alvaro Uribe [official profile; JURIST news archive] to seek a third presidential term in 2010, although a similar proposal passed [Colombia Reports report] in the House of Representatives [official website, in Spanish] last year would require Uribe to postpone a third term until 2014. The two proposals must be reconciled in a conference committee and be approved by the Constitutional Court [official website] before the referendum can take place.

Uribe was elected to a second term in 2006 after a similar referendum, approved by Congress in December 2004 [NYT report] and the Constitutional Court in October 2005 [JURIST report], lifted the original one-term limit. Last June, the Colombian High Court [official backgrounder] ruled [AP report] that a legal inquiry should be held into the election after it found that a legislator had been bribed to help push through the constitutional changes. In response, Uribe called for a referendum [JURIST report] on the election.

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