Colombia needs constitutional reform, says leftist leader about dismissal of Bogota mayor

Posted on Dec 11 2013 - 11:38am by Editor
Antonio Navarro Wolff (Photo: EFE)

Colombia needs a constitutional reform that restricts the powers of the country’s Inspector General’s, after the controversial dismissal of Bogota’s mayor over a trash collecting scandal, constitutionalist and former rebel Antonio Navarro said.

The popular leftist politician and leader of the Senate candidate list for the centrist Green Alliance party said that the Inspector General’s authorities should be revised, claiming the need for a constitutional reform to adjust the mischief.

“I think it’s necessary and I think there is consent about the need to review the General Prosecutor’s powers,” Navarro told Colombia Reports.

Navarro, like now-dismissed Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro, was a member of the M-19 guerrilla group and was one of the leading forces behind the drafting of Colombia’s constitution. Following his demobilization, the activist was elected Senator and later Governor of the southwestern Nariño state.

Navarro’s call to reform the constitution he helped formulate comes after the controversial decision of Colombia’s Inspector General, Alejandro Ordoñez, to dismiss Petro on Monday, barring him from public office for 15 years, over “irregularities” during the transfer of the city’s waste collection to a public service.

MORE: Colombia’s Inspector General dismisses Bogota mayor over trash collecting scandal

While Navarro recognized the fact the Inspector General’s political responsibility demands certain powers especially when it comes to battling corruption, he called Ordoñez’s decision “out of proportion”, claiming that the current regulations about abuse of authority were “too general.”

“[The lack of regulations] is what allows government representatives to act in bad faith for example by punishing a person as they did with the mayor of Bogotá,” said Navarro.

According to the politician, this lack of regulations and the fact that there is only one person in charge of disciplinary actions like the dismissal of the mayor calls for a constitutional reform, revising the Inspector General’s authorities.

“All of this will lead to a constitutional reform of the disciplinary process in Colombia, integrating a necessary second authority, because it is impossible that one person alone can dismiss someone who was elected by popular vote, as it has been going on over the last 12 years in this country.”

These comments by Navarro stand in line with what Colombia’s Minister of Justice said in a radio interview about the case of Petro, stating that it would be valid to open the debate on the powers of the Inspector General’s Office, being capable of dismissing officials that have been elected by popular vote.

According to former senator Navarro, the popular outrage that was sparked by the Inspector General’s decision could turn this case into one of the main elements of electoral debates of the upcoming elections 2014, stating that “the solidarity with Petro could produce social consequences whose extent we still cannot estimate.”

Thousands of supporters flooded Plaza Bolivar in central Bogota on Monday and Tuesday, in a spontaneous display of solidarity for the dismissed mayor. Petro called on the crowd to begin a “peaceful revolution.”

MORE: ‘This is Colombia’s Tahir square’: Dumped Bogota mayor calls for ‘peaceful revolution’

Petro still has the chance to appeal the Inspector General’s decision, but before the same Inspector General.

Sources

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