A referendum seeking the impeachment of Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro continues to be on hold amid uncertainty over other efforts to remove the mayor from office, Colombia’s Registrar’s Office said.
Opponents of the leftist mayor began the impeachment procedure early in the mayoral term, but saw the referendum suspended in March when President Juan Manuel Santos signed off on a ruling by Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez to immediately suspend the mayor and bar him from holding public office for years.
However, Santos allowed Petro back into office after a lower court ordered the president to respect precautionary measures ordered by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that disallowed the impeachment of an elected official by a non-elected official.
Since then, Petro’s political future has become uncertain. The State Council was expected to rule on the legality of the mayor’s removal from office a week ago, but has remained quiet on the issue.
“Petro’s impeachment is currently frozen because the firmness of his dismissal is being evaluated,” said electoral registrar Alfonso Portela on Thursday.
Registrar General Carlos Ariel Sanchez, responsible for organizing formal polls, told press a week ago that “the District Registrar’s Office will continue the process” as Petro remained in office against the will of those who had filed for the referendum and gathered the signatures necessary for the poll to be held.
However, according to Portela, the Bogota office has to wait with setting the date for the referendum until there is clarity from the State Council which can still decide to oust the outspoken mayor.
Once the Registrar’s Office decides it will continue with Petro’s impeachment referendum, it will have a legal term of seven weeks for the referendum to be held.
The Bogota mayor, a former guerrilla and critic of Colombia’s ruling class, was elected in November 2011 and took office for a four-year term on January 1, 2012.
Petro’s suffered almost abysmal approval rating ever since taking office. Ironically, the mayor became one of Colombia’s most popular mayors after his removal from office caused international controversy over Ordoñez alleged overreaching and apparent conflicts between Colombia’s constitution and international law.