Court orders Gustavo Petro and Rodolfo Hernandez to attend presidential debate | Colombia presidential elections

Candidates for the presidency of Colombia, Gustavo Petro and Rodolfo Hernandez.Photograph: Reuters

The Supreme Court of Bogota has ordered presidential candidates Gustavo Petro and Rodolfo Hernandez to agree to the rules for conducting at least one debate within 48 hours of notification of the ruling, that is, until Thursday. The head-to-head encounter, which Hernandez fought back ahead of Sunday’s second round, must take place by mutual agreement.

“Presidential debates in themselves are considered the right of the candidate to present his ideas, but at the same time a duty towards the social bloc,” states the sentence, which was issued in response to the tutela suit presented by a group of citizens. “The patriotic condescension implied in the election of the President of the Republic in our state, the right of access to the media for parties, social movements, politicians, and large groups of citizens, implies an implicit duty to the citizen to allow him to know their candidates,” he argues in another paragraph of the resolution.

Pietro, who briefly suspended his attendance before the first head-to-head round but demanded the opportunity to discuss before the deadline, was all too willing to stick to the decision in his first reactions. The court ordered the presidential debate between the two candidates. It is the right of the people. “I’m ready for it,” he said early Wednesday on his Twitter account. He stressed shortly afterwards in statements to the press that “the ruling must be adhered to.”

Hernandez’s team, which rarely leaves its home in Bucaramanga and has focused its campaign on virtual spaces, has yet to make a statement. “I will not attend the discussions because I will not be involved in these polarized and hateful dynamics. I will present my ideas and suggestions in interviews and on social networks, and talk with Colombians,” he said. announce The former mayor two weeks ago.

In light of the decision, “the candidates must agree on the rules and inform the National Electoral Council so that it can be implemented on Thursday,” said the judge in that case, Luis Guillermo Perez, without giving further practical details.

Esteban Hoyos Ceballos, dean of the EAFIT University School of Law in Medellin, says the guardianship provisions are immediately enforceable. “An appeal against this decision (as it is technically called) does not interrupt compliance with the trial judgment. So the discussion must take place and the decision must take place,” he estimates. The guardianship decision can be appealed within three days of being notified, it adds in its explanation.

The two finalists have appeared so evenly in recent polls that the law has allowed their release, so meeting face to face generates huge expectations. The debate must be requested and scheduled jointly between the two campaigns to be held no later than Thursday, June 16, for one hour, and the public media system Radio Televisión Nacional de Colombia (RTVC) must broadcast it, according to the judges’ decision.

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