The Constitutional Court of Ecuador received several claims of unconstitutionality against the “cross death” decree through which President Guillermo Lasso dissolved the National Assembly (Congress) this Wednesday, called for early general elections, and will govern by decree for six months.
The “cross death” is a legal figure provided for in article 148 of the Constitution approved in 2008, which Lasso invoked before a “serious political crisis and internal commotion” derived from an impeachment trial for alleged embezzlement against him in the Parliament.
The lawsuits were filed by a group of former Assembly members led by Esteban Torres from the Social Christian Party (PSC), a former ally of Lasso and recently elected second vice-president of the dismissed Assembly.
Another demand was presented by the former president of the Assembly, Virgilio Saquicela, who affirmed that there is no reason to dissolve the Legislative Power since there is no serious political crisis and internal commotion, as argued by the president in the decree.
“We demand that the Constitutional Court act; they are the guarantors of the Constitution, the ones who have to resolve, and we democratically demand that they do it immediately and make a pronouncement”, said Saquicela in a press conference.
He added that whatever the pronouncement of the Court is, they will respect it.
“If the Court pronounces in the sense of suspending this unconstitutional decree, the Parliament will return (to its functions), but if the Court supports this decree, there would have to be an electoral process”, he said.
He added that the decision made by President Lasso is a matter of “national interest” on which the Court should rule immediately.
“Not for the legislators to return to the National Assembly, but to respect the rule of law and institutionality,” he said, adding that article 148 of the Constitution has been “tampered with”.
Saquicela, an independent legislator who last week was reelected as president of the dismissed Assembly, said that the president had taken the “easiest way out” before an eventual impeachment within the impeachment trial.
According to constitutional experts, when the lawsuits are filed, the Constitutional Court may suspend the decree temporarily, through a precautionary measure, if requested by the plaintiffs and if the requirements demanded by the Court are met.
The seat of the National Assembly, located in the north-central area of Quito, the capital, remained under military guard and closed with metal fences following the presidential order to dissolve the Parliament.
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