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Ecuador legislature moves forward on president’s impeachment

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) - Ecuador's opposition-led National Assembly voted Tuesday to move forward with impeachment proceedings against President Guillermo Lasso over embezzlement allegations, while his defense team argued that the procedure violated the legislative body’s own rules.

May 10, 2023
10 May 2023

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) - Ecuador's opposition-led National Assembly voted Tuesday to move forward with impeachment proceedings against President Guillermo Lasso over embezzlement allegations, while his defense team argued that the procedure violated the legislative body’s own rules.

The vote to move forward with the impeachment process required a majority of lawmakers present, and 88 of the 116 lawmakers at the session voted in favor. The debate came three days after a majority-led legislative committee declined to adopt a report produced by its own members that had cleared Lasso of the allegations.

Assemblywoman Viviana Veloz, a member of the opposition, urged lawmakers to allow the process to continue "so that once and for all, it is absolutely clear, this trial has a political nature."

Tuesday’s vote means that Lasso's accusers and his defense will be allowed to present evidence before the National Assembly. To remove the president, at least 92 of the Assembly's 137 members - more than two-thirds - would have to vote in favor later this month.

At any time during the process, Lasso could move to dissolve the Assembly and govern by decree with the control of the Constitutional Court for up to six months, after which he would have to call for new presidential and legislative elections.

While lawmakers accuse the president of embezzlement, they have not offered proof of the accusation, and on Saturday, the Legislative Oversight Commission issued a report that cleared Lasso. But five of the nine commision members voted to not approve the report.

Edgar Neira, Lasso's lawyer, told the Teleamazonas television network that the lawmakers' move has no legal basis. The Assembly cannot exercise a power "that is not established in the constitution and the law," Neira said.

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