By Liam Higgins
Although Wednesday’s National Assembly agenda issue was the appointment of new members of the Council of Citizen Participation and Social Control (CPCCS), the attention of legislators was dominated by charges and counter-charges between the assembly president and the attorney general.
A proposal to begin a debate that could lead to the impeachment of Assembly President José Serrano was narrowly voted down while another to investigate the charges made by Attorney General Carlos Bacas was accepted.
On Tuesday, Bacas released a taped telephone conversation he says proves Serrano is conspiring to remove him from office. In the audio tape, assembly president José Serrano and former comptroller Carlos Polit discuss releasing documents that could force Bacas from office. Polit fled to Miami last year after evidence surfaced that he had accepted millions of dollars in bribes from Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction company.
Serrano does not deny the authenticity of the tape but demanded an investigation into how Baca obtained the tape and why he released it. The first question was answered Wednesday when Polit said he was the one who taped the conversation. Baca answered the second by claiming that he fears for the life of his family and wanted the public to know.
Several members of the assembly are demanding that Serrano step down immediately. “How can we trust him [Serrano] after we listen to the tape?” asks assemblyman Franklin Samaniego. “He acts like a common mafioso, not like the leader of the congress of Ecuador. He has lost the trust of the assembly and of the people. He should leave.”
Even assembly members who voted against debating Serrano’s impeachment, say the assembly must conduct a full investigation of the incident. “The charges made in the tape and in the attorney general’s comments are disgraceful and we must get to the bottom of this,” said María José Carrión, of Serrano’s Alianza Pais party. “The issues affect the legitimacy of our institutions and we must get to the truth.”
Ecuador comptroller Pablo Celi said Wednesday that the documents that Polit claims implicate Baca in a 2010 embezzlement scheme are not in the public record. “We have searched our files and they do not exist,” he said. He suggested that Polit’s documents, if they are produced, could be forgeries.