The sacked mayor of Bogota has accused the Inspector General on Monday of rushing the decision that should definitively remove him from public office because he fears that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights might come to his defense.
“The Inspector General’s despair in finalizing the judgment is down to him having violated international treaties,” the ousted mayor Gustavo Petro declared from Bogota’s Palacio Lievano, the mayoral office that, it seems, he will soon have to abandon. “He’s scared of the American Human Rights System.”
Petro’s allegations that the Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez acted hastily on Monday refers to a separate appeal which is currently being considered by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
The incriminating speech took place in the capital’s Plaza Bolivar, the setting for numerous protests, rallies and gatherings since the widely contested sacking was announced last December 9.
As well as labeling Ordoñez as a “religious fanatic” who had committed a serious crime, he accused him of trying to place pressure on President Manuel Santos, who must now carry out the process of his removal.
“We ask the President not to despair,” Petro told the crowds. “Many moments in history have ended badly because of despair. Serenity can lead us to the best decisions.
“The decision by the Inspector General was foreseeable, he’s trying to replace a government which he considers to be sinful,” Petro continued. “From the moment we arrived he didn’t want us here, they didn’t want a Progressive Government, which defends people who are disadvantaged.”
Petro’s time as Bogota mayor appears to be decisively over as, following the processing of his appeal by the Disciplinary Hall of the Inspector General’s Office, Ordoñez declared on Monday that his dismissal and 15 year ban from public office was indeed legitimate.
Nonetheless, the official, along with other public figures, continues to sustain that Ordoñez is acting in abuse of authority.
“We did not commit irregularities in the implementation of the new waste disposal scheme,” Petro claimed in reference to the charges that led to his premature dismissal as mayor. “In the first year alone, the city saved 50,000 million pesos … nor is it an irregularity to pay recycling workers.”
Petro also told the registrar Carlos Ariel Sanchez not to act too hastily, as he was “sure that next March 2, there will be a referendum for the annulment of the order.”
While reiterating that he will seek the establishment of a Consitutional Assembly, Petro added that he did not understand how, in only two hours, the Inspector General read the 200 pages of the prosecution, analyzed them and confirmed the judgment.
“I’m calling for a permanent and national demonstration,” Petro concluded. “We must be present in all the squares of all the municipalities of Bogota, until thousands of people fill the center of Bogota, and not only the Plaza de Bolivar.”
In the meantime, the former executive secretary or the CIDH and current manager of the Robert Kennedy Human Rights Center, Santiago Canton, declared on Monday that “the conditions are right for preventative measures to be taken [by the CIDH in favor of Petro] because of the urgency, the irredeemable nature and serious damage that the [sacking] decision is causing.”
Unlike the Colombian Constitution, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights bans the removal of elected officials from office who haven’t first been tried and convicted of a crime in civilian court. The court is still gathering evidence before it pronounces itself on the case.