Ecuador: threatened with dismissal by Parliament, President Lasso dissolves them

Threatened by impeachment proceedings for corruption, Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso dissolved parliament on Wednesday on grounds of a “serious political crisis”, leading to early elections that could strengthen the opposition.

The conservative head of state, targeted by a dismissal trial that opened Tuesday before parliament where the leftists are in the majority, decided to “dissolve the National Assembly because of the serious political crisis and internal unrest,” according to a press release. Have done by its services.

Unpopular, Guillermo Lasso has been accused by the opposition of embezzlement within the framework of a public contract relating to the transportation of crude oil. He is accused of being aware of this contract to the detriment of Ecuador and of not intervening to terminate it as soon as he takes office in May 2021.

In the wake of announcing the dissolution of parliament, Mr Lasso asked the National Electoral Council (CNE) to call early legislative and presidential elections as provided for in the constitution.

The CNE has until Wednesday to call these elections, and ballots must be in place within 90 days. Mr. Lasso will be able to represent himself. The terms of newly elected MPs and the president will last only until the end of the current four-year legislature, which began in 2021 and will therefore end in 2025.

– Call to display –

“It is a democratic decision, not only because it is constitutional, but also because it gives the Ecuadorian people the possibility to decide,” Guillermo Lasso said on national television.

It is the first time that an Ecuadorian head of state has used this right of dissolution, which can only be used once during the first three years of his mandate.

Former President Rafael Correa (2007-2017), who leads the opposition despite serving an eight-year prison sentence in absentia for corruption and lives in exile in Belgium, called Mr Lasso’s decision “illegal” and a “coup”. Let’s agree. It was also “the last nail in his own political coffin”.

The United States, through State Department Deputy Spokesman Vedanta Patel, “urged government institutions and civil society and citizens to ensure that democratic processes are conducted for the Ecuadorian people”.

Demonstration against President Guillermo Lasso in Quito on May 17, 2023 (AFP – Gallo Pague)

AFP said the parliament building was guarded by soldiers and police, while there were more men in uniform than usual around the presidential palace in the historic center of the capital, Quito.

The army and police have warned that “the constitution must be fully respected by all citizens”.

A coalition of left-wing organizations has called on people to take to the streets to defend “rights and freedoms”.

– right weak –

However, this disintegration may benefit the opposition. “A government with less than 15% credibility has weakened the right-wing movement,” said political scientist Santiago Cahuasqui of the private university SEK. “Movements of the center and left may have more possibilities and perspectives”, he continued.

Even if the left doesn’t get the presidency, “one thing is certain: its representatives, who currently have 49 out of 137, will win more seats”, constitutionalist Rafael Oierte warned on Tuesday of the possibility of disintegration. Citing assurance.

Last June, at a time of violent indigenous demonstrations against the rising cost of living, deputies had already tried to impeach Mr Lasso, but they missed 12 votes to succeed.

“Lack of the necessary votes to save himself from imminent impeachment, Lasso staged a cowardly self-coup with the help of the police and the armed forces, without the support of civilians”, reacted on Twitter the leader of the powerful Leonidas Iza Kony indigenous organization.

Ecuador, which experienced great political instability between 1997 and 2005, a period during which three presidents were overthrown by popular uprisings, experienced a wave of violence for months due to power struggles between gangs involved in drug trafficking. Had to face

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