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Colombian court orders president to reinstate fired Bogota mayor

Former guerrilla was removed from office for violating free-market reforms

Fired Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro.
Fired Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro.Fernando Vergara / AP

A Colombian court late Tuesday ordered President Juan Manuel Santos to reinstate Gustavo Petro as mayor of Bogota, just one month after he signed an official order firing the leftist leader.

In its decision, Bogota’s Superior Court explained that it was protecting Petro’s rights as a cautionary measure until a complaint he filed with the Inter-American Human Rights Court (IAHRC) is finally resolved.

On March 19, the Costa Rica-based IAHRC asked Santos for cautionary measures and to set aside the suspension for now. But the Colombian president refused and signed the order.

The Superior Court’s ruling came less than 24 hours after Santos appointed María Mercedes Maldonado acting mayor, until elections can be held in the Colombian capital.

Petro, a former member of the M-19 guerrilla movement, was removed from office on December 9 by the country’s ombudsman, who has the power to investigate and fire elected officials accused of corruption or failure to carry out their duties.

An investigation was opened against Petro, who was elected by a landslide in 2011, for canceling garbage contracts with private companies. The decision caused a massive trash pileup for three days across the capital in December 2012. Ombudsman Alejandro Ordoñez accused Petro of violating free-market reforms.

Santos now has 48 hours to reinstate Petro, the top court said.

The 54-year-old leftist has claimed that he is the victim of political persecution by Ordoñez and other conservative politicians. Santos said that he was following the law in firing Petro.

“This time the Superior Court in Bogota is protecting the human rights of the citizens of Bogota,” Petro wrote on Twitter after the decision was made public.

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