Colombia’s Uribe announces he will run for second term
BOGOTA, Colombia – Colombian President Alvaro Uribe formally announced that he will run for a second term in next year’s elections, saying Sunday he needed four more years to accomplish his goals of restoring security to the country and spurring economic growth.Uribe, a close U.S. ally, becomes the first Colombian president in more than a century to run for re-election. The move came after his supporters in Congress passed a constitutional amendment earlier this year lifting a long-standing ban on presidential re-election. Colombia’s highest court upheld the change.”I will work so that our country can consolidate democratic security, meet the social goals of eradicating poverty and definitively root out corruption,” Uribe, 53, said in a brief televised speech announcing his decision.Polls show that Uribe would sweep to victory in the May 28 presidential vote, thanks to his tough military policies against leftist rebels and drug traffickers. In the 3 1/2 years since he came to power, crime has dropped, the economy has been on the upswing and the army has pushed the guerrillas from many of their traditional strongholds.This South American country has not seen a president re-elected since the 1800s. Critics of the amendment note that re-election has a poor track record in the region, with second-term leaders often veering toward authoritarianism.Jaime Dussan, leader of the left-wing Independent Democratic Pole party, acknowledged that Uribe will be hard to beat.”Uribe has occupied all the political ground in the country,” Dussan told local radio Sunday.Colombia is embroiled in a 41-year-old civil war pitting the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and a smaller rebel group against a handful of outlawed far-right paramilitary militias and government forces, killing more than 3,000 people every year.While rebel groups have both refused to talk peace with Uribe, the president is in negotiations to disarm the paramilitary militias.