Aug 22 (Reuters - Supporters of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe have handed election officials more than 5 million signatures petitioning a referendum on a constitutional amendment to allow him to run for a third term.
Organizers of the re-election campaign say they have completed the first three principal steps necessary for Uribe to launch a bid for a third consecutive term.
Here are some steps needed to permit a referendum on allowing Uribe to run in 2010:
1. Uribe’s supporters collect 140,000 signatures to officially organize a committee to promote the referendum on re-election. A committee was set up in March.
2. Supporters collect 1.4 million signatures — 5 percent of the electoral roll — to petition for the referendum on constitutional reform. The committee says they collected 5 million signatures in a show of force. Signatures were handed on August 11 and authorities must verify them in 30 days.
3. Once verified, the referendum proposal is passed over to Congress where it must be approved by four debates — two in each chamber of the legislature. Organizers hope this will take around three months, but it could be months longer.
4. If approved by the Congress, Colombia’s constitutional court must then approve the legality of the re-election proposal. The court has 60 days to make its ruling.
5. A referendum date must be set eight days after the court makes its decision and electoral authorities have two to three months to organize the vote.
6. Colombians would be asked in a referendum whether they support allowing a president to run for a third term. At least 25 percent of the electorate must participate in the ballot. Of those, more than 50 percent must vote for the proposal for it to pass.
Organizers expect the referendum could be held in the second half of next year. A victory would allow Uribe to present himself as a candidate in the 2010 elections.
Reporting by Patrick Markey in Bogota, editing by Vicki Allen