Bogota mayor’s impeachment referendum suspended over lack of funds

Carlos Ariel Sanchez (Photo: Noticias RPTV)

A Bogota referendum on whether or not to impeach the mayor of Colombia’s capital’s that was scheduled for March 2 can not take place because the national government failed to send the $17 thousand necessary to organize the poll, Colombia’s registrar general said Wednesday.

According to Registrar General Carlos Ariel Sanchez, his office should have received the money for the referendum last month already for it to adequately organize the impeachment process.

Moving the referendum forward a week, leaving it for the same day as Colombia’s congressional elections, has also stopped being an option because of the time pressure, said Sanches.

“The date of the 2nd or that of the 9th will not work because once we receive the resources it takes 33 days to realize the impeachment vote,” Sanchez told La FM.

Sanchez’ office said that a new date will be announced.

The intended impeachment of Petro has become a headache for opponents of the leftist mayor ever since efforts to remove the once unpopular burgomaster from office began last year.

Disregarding the already approved impeachment referendum, Colombia’s Inspector General, Alejandro Ordoñez, in December dismissed Petro and barred him from holding public office for 15 years.

This decision however led to strong protests and legal action from supporters of the mayor who claimed their right to vote and Petro’s right to be elected had been violated.

One judge impeded the immediate suspension, obligating authorities to allow Petro to stay in office until after the referendum while two other judges ruled that Petro never violated the laws the Inspector General said he had violated.

In the meantime, Petro took the case to the Inter-American Court of Justice claiming that the removal from office of an elected official goes against international law unless it is ordered by a judge or by popular vote. Ordoñez appeared before the international court on Thursday to justify his actions and warn the court of the legal implications of a possible decision to grant Petro legal measures, preventing his removal from office.

Since the announcement of Petro’s dismissal, the mayor’s popularity has nearly doubled, decreasing the chances of a referendum to result in an impeachment.

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