The administrative court of the central Colombian state of Cundinamarca ruled on Thursday that Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro must stay in office until the conclusion of an impeachment referendum in March, suspending a dismissal ordered by the inspector general.
The state administrative court had already temporarily suspended the dismissal while it was studying 36 civilian lawsuits demanding a nullification of the inspector general’s decision to dismiss Petro and bar him from holding public office for 15 years.
According to the plaintiffs, the decision of IG Alejandro Ordoñez to impeach the mayor goes against Colombians’ right to vote and get elected.
Ordoñez dismissed Petro in December over problems that had occurred in 2012 when Petro tried to bring local trash collection under state control. The attempt resulted in a three-day accumulation of trash.
However, according to the court ruling, opponents of the leftist Bogota mayor will have to wait for the results of an impeachment referendum held on March 2.
Following the court decision, Colombia’s State Council can overrule the suspension of the IG’s verdict.
Petro, a former guerrilla of the now-defunct M-19 movement, was elected mayor in 2011 and took office in January 2012. Ever since taking office, the leftist burgomaster has faced fierce opposition to his socialist policies.
In spite of his convincing win in the elections, the Bogota mayor has received one of the lowest approval ratings of Colombian politicians.
However, his popularity has grown since his controversial dismissal.