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Mayor rallies support against sacking

Over 40,000 people took to the streets of Colombian capital Bogota

Over 40,000 people took to the streets of Colombian capital Bogota on Monday as Mayor Gustavo Petro asked them to defend him from right-wing attacks.

Colombian inspector-
general Alejandro Ordonez had ordered the left-wing mayor be removed from office and banished from politics for 15 years over a showdown in 2012 with private refuse collectors.

In a speech to more than 40,000 supporters in Bogota's Bolivar Square, Mr Petro accused Mr Ordonez of doing the bidding of Colombia's extreme right, which has a history of slaughtering left politicians and opposes President Juan Manuel Santos's peace talks in Havana with the Farc rebel group.

A former M-19 rebel himself, Mr Petro refused to accept the decision by the conservative ally of former president Alvaro Uribe.

Mr Petro, who had called his removal "a coup d'etat" in an earlier tweet, accused Mr Ordonez of trying to sabotage the Cuba talks.

But Mr Ordonez's office is empowered to investigate and fire public officials.

In 2010 he removed prominent left-wing politician Piedad Cordoba from the senate and barred her from political office for 18 years.

He ruled at the time that Ms Cordoba, a close ally of late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, had aided and promoted the rebel group.

The inspector-general claimed that he had ordered Mayor Petro fired for "violating constitutional principles of commercial competition and freedom" by sacking privatised refuse collection contractors in December 2012 and replacing them with a city-run service.

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