The impeachment trial against Ecuador’s president begins Tuesday; that’s what it will be like

Guillermo Lasso Ecuador

The National Assembly (Parliament) convened legislators next Tuesday for a session in which the political trial against the head of state, Guillermo Lasso, who the opposition accuses of alleged embezzlement, will take place.

Based on the Organic Law of the Legislative Function and by order of the President of Parliament, Virgilio Saquicela, the General Secretariat of the Assembly convened session 872 of the Plenary, which will take place at 10:00 local time on Tuesday, in the headquarters of the Legislative Function, in the Quito canton.

According to the call made this Sunday, the first point of the day is the National Anthem of Ecuador and the second, is the “political trial against the Constitutional President of the Republic, Guillermo Alberto Santiago Lasso Mendoza.”

According to the opposition, Lasso committed alleged embezzlement by learning of alleged irregularities in a contract signed by the state company Flota Petrolera del Ecuador (Flopec) and the private firm Amazonas Tanker and not having acted to prevent further damage to the State.

Instead, the president’s defense maintains that the contracts were signed under the previous administration of former President Lenín Moreno (2017-2021) and that under Lasso’s mandate, a review was requested from the Comptroller’s Office (Court of Accounts) to renew them under the conditions and observations made by that body.

Last Tuesday, with 88 votes in favor, 23 against and 5 abstentions, the Legislature approved entering the last phase of the process, where there will be an interpellation to Lasso, who must defend himself before the Chamber of opposition majority, which maintains control of the Assembly, according to the elections held this Sunday.

The Minister of Government, Henry Cucalón, had already announced that the ruler will attend the call to ratify “that he has not committed any wrongdoing.”

Lasso “has not committed any embezzlement. So far there is no proof, they have not been able to prove it because it does not exist,” Cucalón said last Wednesday, noting that the impeachment trial “legally has neither head nor tail.”

“The position of the head of state is that, despite all this, he is going to go to the National Assembly to defend his position and demonstrate the truth,” said the minister.

The official opined that the process against Lasso “was born, has developed and will end without any evidence, without any argument and with many vices, but the President of the Republic, despite that, owes a message to his people.”

In the Chamber, the ruler will ratify that “there is no embezzlement on the part of the president, not even in the way of omission, that there is no crime against public administration in criminal matters, in the case called Flopec,” he noted.

A source from the National Assembly confirmed this Sunday to EFE that, according to the law, in the first session there will be the intervention of the president and the interpellants. In addition, the reply and the debate.

“The session is suspended for five days and then the vote goes,” he said.

Although only 116 of the 137 assembly members were present at the plenary session last Tuesday, the votes in favor of continuing with the process were only four fewer than the 92 needed by the opposition to achieve its goal of removing the president, equivalent to two-thirds. of the Assembly.

Among those in favor of prosecuting Lasso are various parliamentary groups such as the Union for Hope (Unes), related to former President Rafael Correa (2007-2017) ; the conservative Social Christian Party (PSC), Lasso’s former electoral partner; the Pachakutik indigenous movement and some independents.

In this way, the opposition spoke out against the report that recommended filing the process for lack of evidence against Lasso, prepared by the Oversight Commission, which last Saturday failed to approve the document and went to the plenary session of the Legislative Assembly.

In the event that the opposition achieves enough votes for the removal of the president, the current vice president, Alfredo Borrero, should assume the Presidency.

Lasso already managed to save a similar situation 2022 in June 2022, when in the midst of a wave of protests led by the indigenous movement, the Assembly voted a motion to remove the president due to serious local commotion that gathered 80 votes.

Now the president has even been the one who has slipped the possibility of, having reached that limit scenario, resorting to the so-called “cross death”, a constitutional figure that allows the president to dissolve the Assembly and call early general elections to govern until then by decrees.

This possibility could generate, as various social movements have warned, an outbreak of protests by groups that claim to have been hit by Lasso’s neoliberal policies.