In what was considered a major surprise, Guadalupe Llori of the indigenous Pachakutik party was elected president of Ecuador’s National Assembly Saturday afternoon. She received 71 votes, one more than necessary, and becomes the first indigenous president of the 137-seat Assembly.
“Most members expected a very long night, with multiple votes and many hours of hallway negotiation,” said political analyst César Ulloa. “Her election and the sudden power position of Pachakutik sets up an interesting dynamic with the conservatives and the government of Guillermo Lasso.”
Llori’s election came after an attempt to elect former Cuenca mayor Marcelo Cabrera of Creo, the party of President-elect Lasso, fell six votes short. According to Ulloa, Llori’s election was the result of support from Lasso’s Creo block and independent Assembly members. “This was a last minute arrangement since her Pachakutik colleague, Salvador Quishpe, had failed by 24 votes on Friday. This could create an unlikely alliance between Lasso, Pachakutik and the Democractic Left. Very notably, it leaves the Correistas and the Social Christians mostly out of power.”
The former prefect of Orellana Province, Llori was jailed by the government of former president Rafael Correa on terrorism charges. Correa called her an “enemy of the people who should never hold public office again.”
In her acceptance speech, Llori acknowledged the support of Creo and independent Assembly members and said she looked forward to working with Lasso to provide effective governance. “We face great challenges with the Covid pandemic, poverty and economic stagnation and we must work together to find solutions,” she said. “There will be many differences but it is the job of the Assembly and the government to resolve these for the benefit of the people of Ecuador.”
Correistas still want a ‘truth commission’
Despite the failure of a power-sharing agreement in the National Assembly, the Correista Unes party (Union of Hope) renewed its call Sunday for a truth commission to investigate alleged judicial abuses against the government of former president Rafael Correa. More than 30 members of the Correa administration, including Correa, have been convicted on a variety of corruption charges and are serving prison sentences or are fugitives living in exile.
The formation of a truth commission was included in the agreement between Unes, Creo and the Social Christian parties before it collapsed last week. “It was part of the alliance that Creo abandoned at the last minute,” said Henry Kronfle of the Social Christians, who was expected to be elected Assembly president before the agreement was broken.
It is unlikely that new Assembly President Guadalupe Llori will consider a truth commission. Before she was elected Saturday, she said that such a commission could also be used to investigate the “false arrests and corruption” of the Correa administration. “They should be careful of what they wish for,” said Llori, who was arrested and jailed on terrorism charges during the Correa administration.
Government says it will fall short of two-million vaccination goal
Health Minister Camilo Salinas said Friday that the government will fall short of its goal of administering two million vaccine doses by the time it leaves office May 24. “This was the commitment of President Moreno but because of the diversion of doses to other countries, this will not be possible,” he said. “We will provide 1.7 to 1.8 inoculations by the 24th when we leave office.”
Salinas said the Covid-19 crisis in India is the main cause of the delay. “We understand the urgency for vaccines there since they are in a terrible situation. The Sinovac and Covac program doses are badly needed there so our shipments have been delayed,” he said, adding that the government of new president Guillermo Lasso will be “well provided” with vaccine doses that will arrive in Ecuador in June and July.
On Saturday, Salinas announced that the Russian Sputnik V vaccine has been approved for immediate use when eight million doses arrive in June and July. “We have reviewed all the data and found the vaccine to be extremely effective, matching the results of the Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Sinovac vaccines.”