Rafael Pardo has transitioned from failed presidential candidate to holding Colombia’s second most powerful elected office, as mayor of the capital city, in a matter of hours after being appointed by President Juan Manuel Santos on Wednesday night.
According to local news sources, the Minister of Labor and now interim mayor of Bogota was sworn in during a ceremony that took no more than ten minutes, after which he said, “This term for mayor has no fixed time limit.”
Speaking at a municipal court in Bogota, Pardo said his priorities were to focus upon safety, mobility and health. According to polls these are the areas that matter most to Bogota citizens.
Pardo said that although he did not arrive with a fixed plan for governing, he will fulfill his responsibilities as mayor and continue to develop the government programs left by his predecessor, Gustavo Petro.
President Santos signed off Petro’s 15-year ban from politics, which took effect immediately. The president subsequently appointed Labor Minister Rafael Pardo successor and said new elections will be held to decide who finishes the 2011-2015 term.
Pardo said his first act of office will be to meet with with not only heads of the city’s police, but also government council members. “I want to clarify that a mayor does not come with a new government program, he comes to lawfully carry out the one that is currently in effect.”
In response to questions about changes to the current cabinet Pardo said, “First I would like to meet with the current cabinet members, because it I believe it is important to keep working with individuals who known the programs.”
Pardos’ confirmation comes amid turbulent times for the city’s government.
Bogota’s entire government resigned on Wednesday, hours after President Juan Manuel Santos finalized removal of leftist former mayor, Gustavo Petro, from office against an international court order. Petro was initially dismissed in December 2013, over a garbage collection scandal.
The mass renunciation was announced by Social Integration Secretary Jorge Rojas who said the secretaries’ resignation was in solidarity with their mayor.
However the city government will stay on until April 1, in order to prepare a final presentation of what Petro and his secretaries have achieved since taking office in January 2011.
“We are at the disposal to promote a handover with the new government team that rises from elections,” said Rojas, adding that he hoped the succession team will “secure new progress made in overcoming social segregation and maintaining the course of adaptation and mitigation of climate change,” said the secretary.
Rojas did not comment upon whether the secretaries will cooperate with the appointed interim mayor, who Petro called an “imposter,” according to El Tiempo newspaper.
President Santos is now responsible for organizing an election to determine who will serve out the rest of Petro’s term.
Pardo said on Thursday, “Whoever is here and wants to keep working is welcome.”