Photo: Gustavo Petro
Colombia’s top administrative court declined to issue an injunction against a move by the Inspector General’s Office to oust capital Mayor Gustavo Petro for alleged mismanagement.
The members of the Council of State rejected the motion late Tuesday by a vote of 14-11 after nearly 12 hours of discussion.
Despite the setback in the council, Petro remains Bogota’s mayor pending final rulings on motions filed with other courts.
A majority of the council concluded that the IG’s office took all the evidence into account when it ordered Petro, 53, removed from office and barred from holding any public post for 15 years.
Petro, a one-time guerrilla and former senator, insists that as a duly elected official, he cannot be removed by administrative fiat.
The mayor reacted to the Council of State’s decision by calling for a demonstration in downtown Bogota, where his supporters have mounted a series of rallies since the IG’s office decision was announced in December.
“I expect you Friday in Bolivia Square,” Petro said on Twitter. “The only defense left to Humane Bogota (as he calls his administration) is the mobilized citizenry.”
Trash piled up in Bogota for several days in December 2012 after Petro decided to shift responsibility for waste management from four private firms to the municipal water company.
The mayor harmed “the principle of freedom of enterprise” and put at risk “the environment and human health of the residents of Bogota,” Colombian Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez said in his Dec. 9 decision ordering Petro’s ouster.
The action of the IG’s office has been roundly criticized in Colombia and abroad, with even Petro’s political foes accusing Ordoñez of having gone too far.
Petro, who was elected in 2011, also faces a recall referendum.
Originally scheduled for March 2, the vote has been pushed back to April 2.
The push to recall Petro is led by Miguel Gomez Martinez, a member of President Juan Manuel Santos’ conservative party who represents a Bogota district in the Colombian Congress.