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Impeachment trial against Ecuador’s president begins in National Assembly

The impeachment trial against the president of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, for alleged embezzlement began yesterday, Tuesday, in the plenary of the National Assembly (Congress), where a possible censure and removal of the president will be defined.

The interpellation session started after 10:00 local time (15:00 GMT), with 109 assembly members of the 137 that comprise the Congress, controlled by the opposition to Lasso’s government.

“I declare the interpellation of the president of the Republic of Ecuador initiated, “said the president of the Assembly, Virgilio Saquicela, after reading the resolution, which 88 assemblymen approved last May 9 to call for the impeachment of the ruler.

The resolution ordered the prosecution of Lasso “for the constitutional infraction of embezzlement (misappropriation of public funds)”, admitted by the Constitutional Court.

The crime would have been committed in a millionaire contract in charge of the public company Flota Petrolera Ecuatoriana for the rental of vessels for the transportation of hydrocarbons that would damage the State.

Impeachment trial against Ecuador's president begins in National Assembly. (Photo internet reproduction)
Impeachment trial against Ecuador’s president begins in National Assembly. (Photo internet reproduction)

The assembly members who questioned Lasso opened the process by clarifying that the political trial was legitimate and presented testimonial and documentary evidence against Lasso.

They accused the president, a 67-year-old former banker, of allegedly knowing the illicit acts of officials who fraudulently awarded several oil transportation contracts to third parties.

The main interpellant assemblywoman, Viviana Veloz, from the Union for Hope Movement (Unes), led by former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa (2007-2017), said that Lasso always knew about the corruption and, despite being alerted during 2022, he did not denounce before the Prosecutor’s Office.

“It is irrefutable the political responsibility of the president since we are convinced that he not only knew and allowed the corruption, but was a strategic part of it, adapting his conduct to the figure of embezzlement,” he said, after pointing out that the State would have been harmed with more than six million dollars.

For the dismissal, 92 votes of the 137 members of Congress are required.

For his part, Lasso, who arrived after midday at the National Assembly headquarters, presented his defense arguments in the impeachment trial, which, he said, is based on an “absurd accusation” to create instability.

“What is at stake is not merely the viability of a government, but Ecuador as a state. We are playing with the soul of our democracy,” he said, after appealing to the reflection of legislators to vote in favor of institutionality.

Lasso pointed out that this was a “groundless trial” by assembly members who had created a fictitious situation to end his government and seize power up to four times in two years of his administration.

“There is no evidence or relevant testimonies; the only thing there is information that proves my total, evident and unquestionable innocence”, he pointed out after affirming that the issue is political.

He distorted the accusations by pointing out that the contract he is being brought to trial was signed in 2018 and renewed in 2020 when he was not yet president.

He added that public companies are autonomous entities and that the president does not interfere, nor does he intervene in signing contracts or negotiations.

This is the first time in 44 years of democratic life in Ecuador that a president will face a possible censure and impeachment before the Legislative Power.

After the interventions of both parties, the session was suspended to later open turns of reply and a legislative debate.

The vote on the possible censure and impeachment could occur between May 20 and 22.

This impeachment trial is the focus of attention in the country, which experienced political instability between August 1996 and January 2007, when there were seven presidents, three of them overthrown.

Hundreds of Lasso’s supporters arrived today in Quito from several provinces to express their support for him.

They surrounded the National Assembly with metal fences and guarded by police.

News Ecuador, English news Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, impeachment Guillermo Lasso, political news Ecuador,

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