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Cablegate: U Party Proposes Third Term for Uribe

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id: 125667
date: 10/12/2007 20:21
refid: 07BOGOTA7375
origin: Embassy Bogota
classification: UNCLASSIFIED
destination:
header:
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DE RUEHBO #7375 2852021
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 122021Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9482
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 9413
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ OCT 8969
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 5506
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 0717
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6103
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4113
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNDTA/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1854


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UNCLAS BOGOTA 007375

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR CO
SUBJECT: U PARTY PROPOSES THIRD TERM FOR URIBE

1. On October 10, U Party Secretary General Luis Guillermo
Giraldo announced that the Party would seek to amend the
constitution to allow President Uribe to run for a third term
in 2010 presidential elections. In a Senate session hosted
by the U Party to discuss its platform, Giraldo said "no
military would change their general in the midst of winning
the battle." U Party officials said that after the October
28 local elections, they will start a campaign to collect
signatures to amend the constitution. Polls show over 50% of
Colombians would support another term for Uribe.

2. Uribe did not support the measure. Secretary of the
Presidency Bernardo Moreno told us Uribe would not run again,
noting the huge institutional personal, and political costs
that would be involved. He predicted pressure for Uribe to
stand again would dissipate as other candidates officially
declare their candidacies. Presidential advisor Jose Obdulio
Gaviria told the press Uribe "had no interest" in pursuing
the U Party proposal, and was interested only in finishing
his second term. Gaviria told us the U Party--although
created to support Uribe's 2006 presidential campaign--no
longer represents the Casa de Narino's interests. Still,
Uribe did not personally address the issue.

3. There is strong opposition within both the U Party and
from other coalition and opposition parties for another
reelection effort. Former Defense Minister and U Party
Senator Martha Lucia Ramirez said she opposed the measure.
Conservative Party leader Senator Efrain Cepeda rejected the
proposal and said the Conservatives planned to run their own
candidate in 2010. Cambio Radical leader German Vargas
Lleras told us he plans to run for president, and would
oppose a third Uribe term. Leading figures in the opposition
Liberal and Polo Democratico Parties also announced their
opposition. The U Party alone would not be able to muster
the votes needed for the amendment.

4. Changing the constitution is not easy, and can be done in
three ways. 1) Congress can pass a constitutional change
through two separate, consecutive rounds of four debates in
one Congressional session (year), with subsequent approval of
the change by the Constitutional Court. 2) Congress can call
a Constituent Assembly. 3) Signatures can be gathered (equal
to five percent of the population) calling for a referendum.
Congress and the Constitutional Court must then approve the
referendum request. Finally, the change must be approved by
50 percent plus one of voters in the referendum--with a
minimum of twenty-five percent of the voting population
participating. The U Party suggested the third route.
Brownfield

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