Assembly report against impeachment is voted down but Lasso supporters say ‘mission accomplished’
The National Assembly Oversight Commission on Saturday failed to muster the votes to approve a report recommending against an impeachment trial for President Guillermo Lasso.
Assembly members pushing for impeachment claim that Lasso ignored cases of potential embezzlement related to a contract between state-owned oil transportation company Flopec and a private business. Lasso denies the allegations, saying the contract was signed in 2018 — long before he became president in 2021 — and that his administration reacted to claims of contractual impropriety based on the advice of the national comptroller.
The report, which says there is no cause for Lasso’s trial or removal, was voted down by five of the commission’s nine members.
Despite the commission vote, the report now goes to the full 137-member Assembly, which will decide whether to go forward with impeachment against Lasso.
Ecuador’s Constitutional Court ruled Friday that Lasso’s opponents cannot present a “minority report” with their clams for impeachment.
Fernando Villavicencio, President of the Oversight Commission, said he believes the rejected report will carry weight with some Assembly members who have not made up their minds about impeachment. “The information in the report is carefully and convincingly presented and I believe it will have an impact on the final vote,” he said. “Internal conflicts among the voting blocs favoring impeachment in recent days indicate the tide may be turning.”
Ninety-two votes are needed to remove Lasso and lawmakers from the party of ex-President Rafael Correa — himself convicted of corruption — have pledged their 47 votes in favor.
Other opposition parties are divided on whether to back Lasso’s removal, while his allies believe they have sufficient votes to block the motion. In a statement released Sunday morning, Lasso’s CREO party said the Oversight Commission’s report had “accomplished its mission” despite being voted down. All sides say a final vote will be close.
Lasso’s lawyer has said the opposition failed to establish what alleged loss of funds took place in relation to the Flopec contract.
Under Ecuador’s constitution, Lasso could dissolve the National Assembly and call early elections for the Assembly and presidency rather than face an impeachment vote. Called the “cross death,” the option would allow Lasso to rule by decree until the new election, possibly for a period of five to seven months.