The political crisis is accelerating in Ecuador. Threatened by impeachment proceedings for corruption, President Guillermo Lasso dissolved Parliament on Wednesday, leading to early elections from which the opposition could however emerge stronger.
The conservative head of state, targeted by a dismissal trial which opened on Tuesday before Parliament where the left is in the majority, has decided to “dissolve the National Assembly because of the serious political crisis and internal unrest” , according to a press release issued by its services.
Upcoming legislative and presidential elections
Unpopular, Guillermo Lasso is accused by the opposition of embezzlement within the framework of a public contract relating to the transport of crude oil. He is accused of having been aware of this contract detrimental to Ecuador and of not having intervened to put an end to it as soon as he took office in May 2021. This 67-year-old former banker is not, however, prosecuted. by the courts in this case. At the opening of his dismissal trial, he pleaded to the deputies his “total, obvious and indisputable innocence”.
In the wake of the announcement of the dissolution of Parliament, Guillermo Lasso asked the National Electoral Council to call early legislative and presidential elections, as provided for in the Constitution. On the other hand, it is the first time that an Ecuadorian head of state has used this right of dissolution, which can only be used once during the first three years of his mandate.
Rafael Correa speaks of a “coup d’etat”
Former President Rafael Correa (2007-2017), who leads the opposition despite being sentenced to eight years in prison in absentia for corruption and lives in exile in Belgium, called the decision “illegal” and a “coup d ‘State “. An alliance of left-wing organizations called for the defense of “rights and freedoms” in the streets.
On Wednesday, the parliament building was guarded by military and police, while around the presidential palace in the historic center of the capital Quito, men in uniform were more numerous than usual. The army and the police have warned that the Constitution must “be fully respected by all citizens”.
This dissolution could, however, benefit the opposition. “The right-wing movement is weakened by a government that has less than 15% credibility,” explains political scientist Santiago Cahuasqui, from the private university SEK. “The movements of the center and the left could have more possibilities and perspectives”. And even if the left does not obtain the presidency, “one thing is certain: its deputies, who are currently 49 out of 137, will win more seats”, had for his part assured Tuesday the constitutionalist Rafael Oyarte.