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Cablegate: Uribe Reelection Bid Hits Another Speed Bump

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #3373 3172016
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 132016Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0848
INFO RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0186
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0673
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA

UNCLAS BOGOTA 003373

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KJUS CO
SUBJECT: URIBE REELECTION BID HITS ANOTHER SPEED BUMP

REF: BOGOTA 3347 AND PREVIOUS; 08 BOGOTA 4372

1. A sub-panel of Colombia's National Electoral Council (CNE) on
November 12 announced it had invalidated the signatures on the
nationwide petition that initiated the process of reforming the
Constitution to allow President Uribe to run for a third term (ref
A). The CNE's investigation began in late 2008 when former U Party
Secretary Luis Guillermo Giraldo - the petition drive's primary
organizer - could not explain the source of the drive's 1.9 billion
pesos (835,000 USD) in financing, well over the legal limit of 335
million pesos (147,000 USD) (ref B). The sub-panel of three CNE
magistrates was chosen to decide the issue after the full Council
deadlocked in October ruled the excess spending illegal.

2. The decision in theory invalidates the entire reelection drive,
as the petition was the legally required first step in the process.
Still, the decision is by no means final. CNE magistrate Carlos
Mario Isaza, a member of the sub-panel, noted the decision could be
appealed and that the referendum process could continue. However,
CNE Vice President Juan Pablo Cepero called the announcement
"premature" and said the three magistrates were not empowered to
make a legal ruling - only to make a recommendation to the full
CNE. At the same time, Colombia Primero ("Colombia First") - the
group that organized the petition drive - announced it would appeal
the decision on the grounds that only the full CNE can rule on the
issue, and even then the CNE is only empowered to nullify the
results in case of fraud and not illegal financing.

3. The final word on the referendum belongs to the Constitutional
Court. Court President Nelson Pinilla announced that on November
11 the deadline had passed for the referendum's formal
documentation to be submitted to the Court. Beginning around
November 15, Pinilla said, the Inspector General will have a 30 day
window to submit its (non-binding) opinion on the referendum law.
A 10 day public comment period will begin at the same time.
Pinilla noted the Court would not rush its decision, as it had many
other important issues to consider. Leading daily "El Tiempo"
pointed out the full Court would probably not begin its review of
the referendum until late January and would then have up to two
months to decide the issue - which would clearly be very close to
the May 30 presidential election date. Newsweekly "Semana"
predicted that the Court would probably nullify the reelection
effort if the full CNE were to finally decide the petition was
invalid.
BROWNFIELD

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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