The three candidates to be acting Mayor of Bogota while elections are called were announced on Wednesday, with a decision due to be made by the Colombian President within 10 days. However the State Council has ruled that two of the three are not legally eligible for the job.
With the decision taken by President Juan Manuel Santos to remove Gustavo Petro from office as Mayor of Bogota, Santos now has to make the decision as to who will be Mayor of Bogota in the run up to the elections.
However, the Colombian constitution states that a Mayor cannot have held office for at least 12 months before election, a potential problem for two of the candidates.
The three put forward by the Progressive Movement (Progresistas) along with the Green Alliance (Alianza Verde) are Maria Mercedes Maldonado, Habitat Secretary, Antonio Navarro, elected Senator and Guillermo Alfonso Jaramillo, former Government Secretary for the Petro administration.
However Jaramillo only resigned on February 10 in allegiance with ex-Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro and Maldonado recently announced she would remain in office until April 2. This means that Navarro is the only applicant who is currently legally viable.
In December 2013, Inspector General Ordoñez ordered the dismissal of Gustavo Petro as Mayor of Bogota due to “irregularities” while reforming the capital city’s garbage collection system in 2012. In trying to change the system to a public one from a privately contracted service, allegedly 9,920 tons of uncollected garbage were left on the streets. This prompted Ordoñez to announce his decision to remove Petro from office and ban him from serving public office for 15 years.
So who are they?
Antonio Navarro is an engineer who was secretary during the first few months of Gustavo Petro’s term. Navarro was Mayor of San Juan de Pasto in Nariño, south-west Colombia, Health Secretary and ran in the presidential election of 1994 as well as being Bogota representative in the House.
Maria Mercedes Maldonado is the Habitat Secretary, that is dealing with urbanisation and public services, as well as being a lawyer and having a masters in urban planning.
Guillermo Alfonso Jaramillo, was, until a few weeks ago, general secretary for the Petro administration. Jaramillo chose to leave his position in a show of solidarity with Petro and was succeeded by Hugo Zárate Osorio. Jaramillo was also a Senator, Chamber Representative and the Governor of Tolima, central-western Colombia.
The announcement of the trio comes in the wake of Santos’ controversial “emergency plan” to remedy some of Bogota’s worst problems.
Labour minister, Rafael Pardo is currently acting as interim mayor.