(CNN Spanish) — The elected president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, is the first leftist leader to govern the country in its history. Petro takes office on August 7, according to the country’s political tradition, to enter the House of Nariño and hold the position of president until 2026. That same day, President Iván Duque ends his term.
Why does the inauguration take place on that date?
On August 7, the Battle of Boyacá is commemorated, one of the main founding moments of Colombia because ended the independence campaign in 1819. The so-called Liberation Army, which Francisco de Paula Santander organized in previous years by order of Simón Bolívar, achieved military victory that day and later Gran Colombia was constituted —which included the territories that are now Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama— until 1830.
What happens in the inauguration of the president?
The inauguration is a ceremonial act with several important moments. It begins with the national anthem, but its central element is the oath of the new president. The elected president must take office before the Congress of the Republic and recite: “I swear to God and promise the people to faithfully comply with the Constitution and the laws of Colombia,” as established by the Constitution. The political letter also warns that if for any reason the president cannot be sworn in before Congress, he “will do so before the Supreme Court of Justice or, failing this, before two witnesses.”
After the oath, the presidential sash is imposed and the vice president, in this case Vice President Francia Márquez, is sworn in.
The event, which is traditionally held in the Plaza de Bolívar in Bogotá, also includes a speech by the president of Congress and the president-elect, which are usually long due to the time they mark. In addition, leaders and presidents of other countries attend, whose invitations and confirmations of attendance begin to be known in the following weeks.
Also on that day, the outgoing president leaves the Casa de Nariño, residence and seat of government, to hand it over to the new president who will govern from there.