Colombia’s state council on Friday suspended the popular governor of the western Choco department while a lower court began investigating whether the governor should be dismissed over a 1997 corruption conviction.
According to plaintiffs unidentified in local media, Governor Luis Gilberto Murillo is not allowed to hold any public office because of his conviction for malfeasance.
Murillo was convicted because he misappropriated money allocated for a sanitation project to build in a school when he was head of the Choco Sustainable Development Corporation in 1994.
According to weekly Semana, allies of Murillo said that the National Electoral Council had already rejected the demand as the crime for which the now-suspended governor was convicted was scrapped from the penal code in 2000.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos now has to appoint an interim-governor while the court rules decides whether to allow the governor to stay on or not.
Since office in January, Murillo has enjoyed extraordinary popularity among Chocoanos. According to a poll held earlier this month, the governor has the approval of 85% of his department’s population.