Ecuador’s National Assembly has received the go-ahead to proceed with the impeachment of President Guillermo Lasso, accused of crimes against the public administration. The request by the deputies was accepted by the Constitutional Court, the legal body responsible for evaluating the admissibility of this type of process.
The request, accepted on the night of March 29, had been filed on March 10. Opposition lawmakers accuse Lasso of involvement in an alleged corruption network involving several public companies, based on a report published earlier this month by the country’s Truth, Justice and Corruption Commission.
Of the nine judges on the Court, six were in favor of opening the case, which will now go before the Ecuadorian National Assembly. In order for the president to be removed from office, it is necessary for two thirds of the legislators to vote for his removal (92 votes out of a total of 137 deputies).
The request evaluated by the plenary of the Constitutional Court raises three charges against Lasso, two linked to abuse of office, which were denied by the judges, and one of embezzlement – which was accepted. The impeachment process is signed by 59 opposition lawmakers.
This is the first time since the implementation of Ecuador’s current constitution in 2008 that a president will face impeachment proceedings. The parliament now has 30 days to carry out the necessary procedures, including the opportunity for defense.
A commission of parliamentarians will prepare a report that will be taken to the plenary of the Ecuadorian legislature for discussion before the actual vote takes place.
In an official statement, the government headed by Lasso said it respects the Constitutional Court’s decision, but reiterates that the president is innocent. In addition, it stressed that the judges’ decision to admit the case does not validate the arguments of the deputies who filed the impeachment request.
The president, who represents an ultraliberal party he himself founded (Creo Movement), has the support of a minority of National Assembly deputies. Together, the parties of the deputies who signed the impeachment request have 87 deputies, a number close to the 92 needed for impeachment. Another 16 deputies elected by smaller, local parties could tip the scales.
This piece first appeared in Brasil de Fato in Portuguese.