Under impeachment threat, Lasso dissolves Ecuador parliament, sparking snap election

Quito, May 17 (EFE).- Ecuador’s embattled president Guillermo Lasso, who is in the middle of an impeachment trial, on Wednesday triggered a constitutional clause known as “mutual death” to dissolve the opposition-led National Assembly (parliament), paving the way for a snap election.

Invoking “muerte cruzada” means Lasso can rule by decree until elections are held within 90 days.

In doing so, he sacrifices the second half of his term in exchange for avoiding possible dismissal under accusations of knowing about and allowing embezzlement through a contract between the state-owned energy firm Flota Petrolera Ecuatoriana (Flopec) and the private Amazonas Tanker that the opposition claims harmed the State.

In an early morning message to the nation, the Ecuadorian president announced the “mutual death” by arguing a “serious political crisis and internal commotion” caused by the opposition, and due to the uncertainty of achieving the necessary votes that would allow him to continue in office.

“Ecuador needs a new political and social pact that allows it to get out of the serious political crisis in which it finds itself and which, unfortunately, deepens every day,” Lasso said.

In his speech, Lasso claimed the opposition has hindered the governability of the country right from the beginning of his term and that they have wanted to remove him from power four times.

On Tuesday, the president appeared before the plenary session of the Assembly on the first day of his impeachment trial to present his defense, in which he reiterated his innocence and once again accused the opposition of inventing the accusations against him and of wanting to carry out an “institutional assault.”

On Wednesday, the headquarters of the Assembly, where the impeachment debate was to continue, was empty and surrounded by the military, while Lasso held a meeting with the diplomatic corps.

The reactions were immediate, with former president Rafael Correa saying Lasso’s move was “illegal.”

“Obviously there is no ‘internal shock.’ He just couldn’t buy enough assemblymen to save himself. In any case, it is a GREAT opportunity to get rid of Lasso, his Government and his rented assembly members, and recover the Homeland,” he wrote on Twitter.

The president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie), Leonidas Iza, said “not having the necessary votes to save himself from his imminent dismissal, Lasso launched a cowardly self-coup with the help of the Police and the Armed Forces, without citizen support, becoming an imminent dictatorship.”

The conservative Social Christian Party (PSC), the main promoters of the impeachment trial against Lasso, rejected claims of a serious political and internal crisis and also questioned the legitimacy of Lasso’s move, accusing him of trying to avoid dismissal.

The PSC has filed a claim of unconstitutionality with the Constitutional Court.

In a press conference, former Assembly president Virgilio Saquicela said that the legislators, now dismissed by the government’s measure, will respect the pronouncement of the Constitutional Court and warned that if the decree is suspended, they will resume their duties.

Meanwhile, former president Lenín Moreno was in favor of the measure and requested unity to prevent Correísmo from triumphing in the next election.

In turn, Conaie president Iza, from the Pachakutik party, summoned social sectors to a “popular assembly” to “face the dictatorial model” that Lasso could apply during this period.

Faced with possible protests, Interior Minister Juan Zapata warned Wednesday that the police will only act “if the established order is affected.” EFE


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