The signatures, collected over the last 97 days, were submitted by Congressman Miguel Gomez of the U Party to the registrar’s office on Thursday.
If the office validates the signatures, the next step in the process will be a popular referendum in which the citizens of Bogota will be able to vote whether or not they wish the mayor to remain in office for the next three years.
The movement to impeach Petro by popular vote was initiated on January 3, 2013 by Congressman Gomez, who at the time warned: “we are facing an incompetent government that threatens to destroy Bogota.”
Gomez did not receive the backing of the U Party, nor of the national government, which came out in support of Petro after the campaign was launched. However with 641,707 signatures allegedly backing the movement, Gomez’s fight to remove the embattled mayor will continue.
If the signatures are verified, it is estimated it will then take another two months before a referendum can be organized. For the mayor to be removed from office, at least 55% of the Bogotanos who voted in the 2011 mayoral elections, approximately 617,000 people, must vote in favor of the impeachment.
Gustavo Petro has so far reacted to the campaign with disdain, reportedly attributing the backers of the signatures to “mafiosos,” and stating that he will only recognize Gomez’s signatures once they have been verified.
“The administration has asked that the signatures be checked one by one, with our presence,” said Petro, adding that “from experience, one of every two signatures is valid.”
The process to impeach an elected official via this mechanism has previously been attempted 37 times without ever being successful.