Santos Presents Bill to End Colombia Presidents’ Re-Election

The government of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos presented a bill to Congress that would limit future presidents to a single four-year term.

The move would reverse a 2005 change in the law which allowed Santos and former President Alvaro Uribe to serve second terms in office. Santos was sworn in for a new on term Aug. 7.

“This means strengthening our democracy, re-establishing the principle of weights and counter-weights so that power limits power,” Santos said today in a speech broadcast on the presidential website. “Re-election will be eliminated. And not only re-election of the president of the republic, but of all high officials of state.”

The changes are intended to curb the presidency’s dominance over other branches of state, and prevent so-called “caudillos,” or strongmen, from gaining too much power, said Laura Wills, director of Visible Congress, a Bogota-based group that promotes political transparency.

“The coalition will argue that this will be a protection against caudillismo, to avoid the concentration of power and to achieve a clearer equilibrium in power between the different parts of the state,” Wills said in a phone interview.

The majority that Santos’ governing coalition commands in Congress, and support from some opposition politicians, is “favorable” for the proposal to eliminate re-election, Wills said.

Brazilian presidents can serve up to two four-year terms, while in Mexico the president is limited to a single six-year term.

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