Presidential candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga of the Democratic Center party said Wednesday that ongoing crises surrounding Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro has prompted him to address a pending justice reform as early as this summer if elected to Colombia’s highest office.
“I aspire to take up this issue … in August [if inaugurated president] with all of my conviction because this [case] is weakening [the judiciary] and generating chaos within the institution,” Zuluaga told Colombia Reports referring to an ongoing battle for control of Bogota.
On Wednesday, President Juan Manuel Santos was forced to undo his initial impeaching of Petro after a five-month legal battle between the ousted politician, various domestic courts, the inspector general, and international bodies.
“It seems to me that the decision [to reinstate Mayor Petro] generates uncertainty and evidence of Colombia’s need to advance in reforming the judiciary,” Zuluaga told Colombia Reports after a presidential debate in Medellin.
Within the Superior Court of Bogota, which consists of six specialized courtrooms, the Civil Court of Land Restitution was the legal body that ordered the president to reinstate Petro. Zuluaga took issue with the fact that this specific wing of the Superior Court of Bogota made the final decision.
“It is not possible that a judge from an area of the agrarian sector would be the one to decide the future of Bogota. There have to be clear procedures,” he said, adding that this case has already been given enough attention by the courts.
“It has been given all of the [resources] of the judicial process derived of months of study … and it even went until the State Council,” said Zuluaga, exasperated.
The State Council — one of the four high courts in Colombia — initially denied Petro’s appeals to resist dismissal, but has since agreed to look at the case again from a different angle and is expected to make a statement by the end of this week.
The candidate of former President Alvaro Uribe’s newly created political party concluded saying that nothing will change over night, but there is a real problem facing Bogota.
“There is a level of uncertainty and anxiety for Bogota’s citizens and for the [judicial] institution,” said Zuluaga.
- Interview with Oscar Ivan Zuluaga