RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Metropolitan Council of Quito resolved to dismiss the mayor of the Ecuadorian capital, Jorge Yunda, accused of corruption, the first time such a decision has been adopted to remove the city executive.
By fourteen votes in favor, one against, and six abstentions, the councilors of the Metropolitan District of Quito resolved at the stroke of midnight last night that Yunda, an independent, be removed from the mayor’s office.
However, the mayor can appeal to the Electoral Tribunal against the decision, which he said he intends to do to review the process.
The vote took place on an intense day in which the Metropolitan Council analyzed two requests for the mayor’s removal. However, only the petition presented by the Frente de Profesionales por la Dignidad de Quito was analyzed.
Until the head of the Quito City Council completes his appeal against the decision, the deputy mayor of the capital, Santiago Guarderas, assumes on an interim basis the mayoralty of the city, home to more than two million inhabitants.
A leftist but independent politician, Yunda has found himself accused of embezzlement in the purchase of 100,000 PCR tests last year, material needed to fight the pandemic.
Under the spotlight is a contract with the private firm Salumed S.A. which, in the end, delivered tests different from those stipulated and at an apparent overprice, causing the public treasury a loss of $4.22 million.
With an electronic shackle since February, as a substitute measure to preventive imprisonment, the Quito councilor asserts that his decision “saved lives”, but the process continues in the courts, together with thirteen other accused persons, including close collaborators.
Indirectly involved, the mayor’s son Sebastián has had conversations disseminated that imply an inappropriate relationship with officials of the municipality, pointing to influence peddling.
Yunda took office in May 2019, becoming the 23rd mayor of Quito and the first whose Municipality resolves to remove him from office.