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The ‘death cross’ and early elections are not being considered, government says

President Lenin Moreno’s office said Tuesday that there are no plans to call for early elections following Sunday’s rejection of the government’s economic reform law in the National Assembly.

President Lenin Moreno

“The option of changing the election schedule is not on the table,” presidential press secretary Gabriel Arroba said. “Comments by some government ministers on the subject were taken out of context by social and mainstream media and we want to make clear that this option is not under consideration.”

Arroba added: “The general election is coming soon, in a little over a year, so it makes no sense to hurry the process.”

Under the constitution, the president is allowed to invoke the “la muerte cruzada,” or death cross, in times of national emergency and call for new elections. The provision dissolves the National Assembly and allows new elections for both the Assembly and the presidency.

Arroba’s statement followed comments by Environment Minister Raúl Ledesma and Energy Minister Carlos Pérez during symposium on mining and oil production on Monday. Ledesma accused Assembly members who opposed the government’s economic reform package of “putting politics ahead of the national interest” and said it appeared that many elected officials wanted to see an economic collapse to advance their political careers. He said that emergency elections may be required to “rebalance national priorities.”

Ledesma’s comments followed a radio interview in which Finance Minister Richard Martínez said that the Assembly’s rejection of the government’s financial proposals puts the country in “extreme crisis.” He said that Ecuador’s financial risk factor had “soared off the charts” following the rejection. “Because of this, if Ecuador returned to the bond market today it would pay as much as 13 percent, one of the highest borrowin rates in the world.”

Arroba said that the president plans to “work through the system” to find solutions for the crisis, adding that new proposals for increasing revenue will be submitted Wednesday to the National Assembly.