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Colombia: Political Crisis Aggravates, As Second Minister Resigns

Colombia's defense minister resigns, only three days after the interior minister stepped down. No reasons were given, as the political crisis sparked by president Uribe's defeat in referendum last month steams up.

Colombia's defense minister, Marta Lucia Ramirez, resigned Sunday without any reason for her sudden decision to quit. She is the second member from President Alvaro Uribe's cabinet in leaving office, shortly after government's defeat in a referendum on country's economics and public sector reform.

Mr Uribe had recently called a referendum to seek public backing for 15 proposals to adopt "structural reforms", like freezing public workers' salaries, reducing the number of Congressmen, changing State pensions' system, redefining the role of the Congress and others. The election was also seen as a referendum over ultraconservative Uribe's rule, which enjoys 70 per cent of popularity, but according to the results Colombians rejected the new austerity program fueled by the IMF.

At that time, the first one in acknowledging defeat was then-Defense Minister Martha Lucia Ramirez, who said: "All Colombians have lost an opportunity to adopt structural reforms," as Associated Press quoted her. The President had also suffered a reverse in the elections for the mayor of Bogota, with the government-backed candidate losing to a left-winger. With 92 percent of the votes counted, Luis Eduardo Garzon, the son of a cleaning lady, took 46.61 percent of the vote against 39.97 percent for the government-backed center-right candidate, Juan Lozano.

Lozano's center-left party also won in other country's most populated cities, as threats to end with the traditional two-party system that ruled Colombia all over the XX Century. Lozano is also a democratic alternative to the militarized left-wing insurgency, as many observers see him as a key player on eventual peace talks.

Hernan Etchaleco

 

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