Ecuador: threatened with dismissal, President Lasso dissolves parliament

Threatened by impeachment proceedings, Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso dissolved parliament on Wednesday on the grounds of a “serious political crisis”, prompting early elections in the country wracked by political disputes.

The conservative head of state targeted by the impeachment trial, which opened Tuesday before parliament, has decided to “dissolve the National Assembly due to the serious political crisis and internal unrest”, indicates a press release issued by its services.

The unpopular right-wing president, who came to power in May 2021, has been accused by the left-wing, majority parliament of embezzlement over a public contract to transport crude oil. The opposition believes that they were warned about the device’s existence but did not act to stop it.

Mr Lasso, a 67-year-old former banker, is however not being prosecuted in connection with the case. At the opening of the trial for his dismissal, he asserted his “total, clear and undeniable innocence” to the deputies.

In the wake of announcing the dissolution of Parliament, Mr. Lasso asked the National Electoral Council (CNE) to call an early general election. The constitution provides that the electoral body organizes within a maximum period of seven days of the publication of the decree of dissolution, legislative and presidential elections to complete the current four-year term.

– “Probability of decision making” –

“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 told national television channel.

He would be able to rule by adopting decree-laws of economic emergency, but after a favorable opinion of the Constitutional Court, until the establishment of a new National Assembly.

AFP said at dawn, the parliament building was guarded by soldiers, while uniformed officers were more numerous than usual around the presidential palace in the historic center of Quito.

“The Armed Forces and the National Police maintain and will irrevocably maintain their posture of absolute respect for the constitution,” said General Nelson Prano, head of the Joint Command of the Ecuadorian Armed Forces, in a video released by the Defense Ministry.

It is the first time that a head of state has used this right of dissolution, a provision that can be activated only once during the first three years of the mandate.

Constitutionalist Rafael Oyarte told AFP on Tuesday that triggering the mechanism would be a sign of “political irresponsibility” in Mr Lasso, stressing that it would benefit members of the opposition.

“Even if it is not certain that he will receive the presidency of the republic, one thing is certain: his delegates, who currently stand at 49 out of 137, will win more seats,” he explained.

In June, at a time of violent indigenous demonstrations against rising costs of living, deputies had already tried to dismiss Guillermo Lasso, but he missed 12 votes to succeed.

The country, which experienced great political instability between 1997 and 2005, a period during which three presidents were overthrown by popular uprisings, has been subject to a wave of violence for months due to power struggles between gangs involved in drug trafficking. have also been encountered.

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