Thousands of people flocked to the Colombian capital's Bolivar Square on Friday to show support for Mayor Gustavo Petro, ousted this week for alleged mismanagement.

Students, workers, political activists and others converged on the square in processions that originated in 16 different Bogota neighborhoods.

Petro, a one-time guerrilla and former senator, called for "the largest popular mobilization in the history of Bogota" to repudiate Colombian Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez's decision to remove the mayor and ban him from public office for 15 years over a garbage-collection snafu.

Trash piled up in Bogota for a number of days in December 2012 after Petro decided to shift responsibility for waste management from four private firms to the municipal water company.

The leftist mayor harmed "the principle of freedom of enterprise" and put at risk "the environment and human health of the residents of Bogota," Ordoñez said Monday in announcing his ruling.

The decision has been roundly criticized in Colombia and abroad, with even Petro's political foes accusing Ordoñez - a prominent rightist - of having gone too far.

Colombia's attorney general, Eduardo Montealegre, has launched an investigation of Ordoñez's handling of the case.

Under Ordoñez, the procedures of the IG's office are "inquisitorial, medieval and lacking in guarantees for those who are investigated," Montealegre said Wednesday.

"Today is a day of democratic celebration. No hate in our hearts," Petro wrote Friday on Twitter. EFE