Opponents of the socialist mayor have been seeking Petro’s impeachment practically since he came into office in 2012 and had already successfully gathered the necessary public support for a referendum in 2013.
However, this attempt to oust the unpopular mayor was frustrated in February last year when Colombia’s inspector general, a political opponent of Petro, kicked the mayor out of office on charges that were later deemed unsubstantiated by the court.
Amid international pressure and following a court order, President Juan Manuel Santos was forced to reinstate the mayor two months later.
By then, local resistance against the illegal impeachment process had lifted Petro’s approval rating, virtually killing the possibility of a successful impeachment through a referendum.
However, once the storm had past, bogotanos returned to what they were doing before the judicial chaos; strongly disapprove of their mayor.
Petro’s approval rating
On Wednesday, the State Council turned down the prosecutor general’s final appeal and ordered authorities to not further try to oust the elected official.
Only hours later the Constitutional followed up with a ruling that ordered the National Registry Office to hold the referendum within two months, or little more than half a year before the end of Petro’s four-year term.
In a response to the decision, the Bogota mayor expressed relief over the precautionary measures that protect him from being ousted on decree, while accepting the challenge of the referendum.
“Who said that a progressive government could govern easily,” said Petro on Twitter.
Petro, a former guerrilla of the now-demobilized M-19 rebel group, has long been a polemic politician.
Before being elected Bogota mayor, the leftist politician was a senator for the leftist opposition in Congress and one of the most vocal opponents of former President Alvaro Uribe.