- President Guillermo Lasso has ordered the dissolution of the government of Ecuador.
- The order comes as Lasso faces an impeachment vote.
- This is the first time that the president has dissolved the legislature in Ecuador.
Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso signed a decree on Wednesday dissolving the country’s legislature, a day after the opposition-led body launched impeachment proceedings against him over alleged corruption.
A sudden decree issued by the unpopular conservative president’s office said Lasso was dissolving the unicameral National Assembly “because of a grave political crisis and national turmoil.”
While dissolving Congress, Lasso called on the National Electoral Council (CNE) to call new elections.
This is the first time that the president has dissolved the legislature in Ecuador.
Under the law, the CNE must convene within seven days of the decree’s publication to schedule new presidential and legislative elections to complete the current term, which ends in 2025.
Elections must be held within 90 days and Lasso, 67, could run for president again, although his popularity is at a record low.
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Until the new National Assembly is sworn in, Lasso can rule by decree, with checks from the Constitutional Court.
The Popular Front, an alliance of workers, teachers, rural, student and women’s organizations, called for a national protest to defend “rights and freedoms”.
Lasso’s impeachment trial opened on Tuesday amid widespread anger over the South American country’s continuing rise in drug-trafficking violence and the high cost of living.
Addressing the legislature, Lasso declared his “complete, manifest and indisputable innocence.”
The majority left-wing opposition accuses Lasso of knowing about alleged corruption at state-owned companies involving his brother-in-law Danilo Carrera and a businessman accused of drug trafficking.
Speaking on state television on Wednesday, Lasso defended his decision to dissolve the National Assembly.
Referring to the new elections, Lasso said.
It is a democratic decision not only because it is constitutional, but because it gives back to the people of Ecuador the ability to decide.
The National Assembly building and the Government House in central Quito were both guarded by security forces on Wednesday morning.
Diana Atament, head of the CNE, called for calm.
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“I call upon the political and institutional actors to implement this unprecedented election process with the maturity and responsibility characteristic of us,” Atament said at the press conference.
“The armed forces and national police maintain and will continue to maintain their absolute respect for the constitution,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Nelson Proano said in a video released by the Defense Department.
Lasso’s actions may have been aimed at preventing his impeachment, but experts say it is likely to benefit the left-wing opposition and their ousted leader Rafael Correa, the former president (2007-17) who fled to Belgium to avoid an eight-year prison sentence. corruption verdict.
Writing on Twitter, Korea called the move a “coup d’état”.
This is illegal. It is obvious that there is no state of internal political turmoil, rather, a political trial in accordance with the constitution.
“Either way, it’s a good opportunity to send Lasso home and take his government and lawmakers to task.”
Political scientist Santiago Cahuasqui of Quito’s SEK University told AFP that “sections of the right have been weakened by the presence of a government with an approval rating of less than 15 percent.
In the early elections, “the center and left sectors could have more opportunities and prospects”.
Constitutional expert Rafael Oyarte told AFP that dissolving Congress would pay few dividends for Lasso because it would only benefit the left.
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“Although it is not certain that they will win the presidency, one thing is certain. they would increase their number of legislators, which currently stands at 49 from 117.”
Ecuador’s legislature tried to impeach Lasso last June amid indigenous protests against the rising cost of living, but fell short by 12 votes.
Leonidas Iza, head of the powerful Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities, described Lasso’s move as a “cowardly self-coup with the help of the armed forces and the police” and warned that the country was on the brink of “dictatorship”.
Indigenous groups played a key role in the overthrow of three Ecuadorian presidents between 1997 and 2005.
After the Lasso decree, Washington reiterated that it views Ecuador as a partner in key areas such as the fight against drug trafficking, but is closely monitoring the events in Quito.
“We ultimately call on all government institutions, the public and citizens to ensure that democratic processes are implemented for the people of Ecuador,” State Department Deputy Spokesman Vedant Patel said.