Colombia tribunal restores ousted Bogota mayor

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 22, 2014 9:32 PM

BOGOTA (Reuters) - A Colombian tribunal on Tuesday ordered that Gustavo Petro be restored as mayor of Bogota, just weeks after he was officially ousted from the post over mismanagement.

The 54-year-old former guerrilla left office on March 19 when President Juan Manuel Santos ratified a decision by the Council of State, the senior judicial authority that dismissed him over the poor handling of waste collection.

It was not immediately clear if Tuesday's ruling by a Bogota tribunal could be appealed or over-ruled by Santos. The city has had two stand-in mayors since Petro left.

"Bogota's superior tribunal protects political rights, that are the human rights of Bogota's citizens and mine," Petro said on his Twitter account.

Petro's dismissal was declared in December by right-wing Inspector General Alejandro Ordonez over the mayor's attempt to reclaim management of waste collection from private operators. Poor planning resulted in garbage piling up in the streets before the duties were returned to private contractors.

The inspector general's office probes mismanagement by public officials.

Santos has previously said that he would restore Petro to office if a judicial ruling is made in the former mayor's favor.

Petro's ouster caused nationwide controversy. Many saw the decision by Ordonez to also ban Petro from holding public office for 15 years as particularly unfair and a move by the traditionally right-leaning political establishment to undermine leftist opponents.

It also raised concerns about political participation by Marxist FARC rebels if ongoing peace talks are successful.

The FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, is negotiating a five-point peace accord with the government to end a half-century of conflict that has killed more than 200,000 people.

Petro had been a member of the now-defunct M-19 guerrilla movement which disbanded to embrace politics.

(Reporting by Helen Murphy and Luis Jaime Acosta; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)