Photo: Juan Manuel Santos
President Juan Manuel Santos told lawmakers at the opening session of Colombia’s Congress that among the priorities of his second administration will be undoing the 2004 constitutional amendment allowing an incumbent head of state to seek re-election.
“We’re going to eliminate presidential re-election and we’re going to extend the presidential term to five or six years,” Santos said in his address to the new Congress.
The president, who next Aug. 7 will be sworn in for his second four-year term in office, told the media that the new term limit will take effect in 2018 when he steps down.
“Let it be understood that the extension will not benefit me, only those presidents who succeed me,” he said.
Presidential re-election began in 2004 when then-head of state Alvaro Uribe promoted a controversial amendment to the constitution that only passed Congress thanks to the votes of two lawmakers who switched parties and ultimately went to prison.
The amendment allowed Uribe to seek and win a second term in 2006.
Uribe sought to run for a third term but was stopped by the Constitutional Court in 2010. Santos was elected that year and has now benefited from that reform, which enabled him to run for a second term.
The president committed himself before the lawmakers to apply the extension measure to mayors and governors while unifying the length of time in office for all officials.