Ecuador: Parliament begins ousting Guillermo Lasso – 26/06/2022 – World

Ecuadorian parliamentarians continue to analyze this Sunday (26) the request for removal of President Guillermo Lasso, worn out by protests that have brought together thousands of indigenous people for 14 days against the government and the increase in fuel prices.

The demonstrations, which began on June 13, have already caused at least six civilian deaths and worsened Lasso’s already hostile relationship with the National Assembly, which has blocked the president’s main economic proposals.

Pressure on Lasso increased on Friday (24), after a group made up of 47 opposition deputies formally called for the president’s removal. The parliamentarians are part of the opposition movement Unes, loyal to former leftist president Rafael Correa.

According to broadcaster Telesur, the request by UNES parliamentarians is based on impeachment due to serious internal commotion due to strikes and protests led by Conaie (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador) and which would be supported by numerous sectors of society, including students, workers and peasants.

Also on Friday, the president of the National Assembly, Virgilio Saquicela, called on lawmakers to remotely analyze Lasso’s impeachment request. Hearings to discuss the topic began this Saturday (25). Approximately 30 parliamentarians spoke for and against the president for almost eight hours on the first day of the session.

The discussion will resume at 16:00 local time (18:00 GMT this Sunday). Once completed, deputies will have a maximum of 72 hours to decide on the president’s fate. To move forward, the impeachment needs the support of at least 92 of the 137 lawmakers in Congress, in which the opposition is a majority but is highly fragmented.

If the request is approved, the vice president, Alfredo Borreno, will assume the government of Ecuador and must call new presidential and legislative elections within seven days.

On Thursday, Lasso took the first step towards resuming dialogue with the protesters. Isolated with Covid, the president gave in to one of the claims and ordered the departure of soldiers from the Casa da Cultura, a symbolic place for indigenous people in downtown Quito.

This Saturday, the Ecuadorian government and indigenous leaders had their first formal talks since the protests began. At the meeting, Lasso pledged to end the state of exception that governs six provinces and the capital of Ecuador. The measure enabled the president to mobilize the Armed Forces to maintain internal order, suspend citizens’ rights and decree a curfew.

“The government reiterated its willingness to ensure the creation of spaces for peace,” Lasso’s team said in a statement after the meeting. Government representative Fabian Pozo told the National Assembly that the country is gradually returning to normal and that the president has listened to the protesters’ demands.

Conaie leader Leonidas Iza said the roadblocks will be lifted gradually. The measure is expected to restore food transport to Quito, where residents complain of a lack of supplies. He said, however, that indigenous groups will remain in the capital until they get a satisfactory answer from Lasso. “We will not leave our brothers’ shed blood here. We came with a purpose.”

Pope Francis called this Sunday for calm in the face of the bloody indigenous protests registered in the country. “I encourage all parties to abandon violence and extreme positions. Only through dialogue can social peace be found, I hope soon”, said the Argentine after the weekly Angelus prayer at the Vatican.

The protesters are calling for a reduction in the price of gasoline, the renegotiation of rural workers’ debts with banks, more jobs and an end to the granting of mining licenses on indigenous lands. On Friday, Fausto Jarrin, from Unes, said that the country “can’t take it anymore”.

The government criticized Unes’ action, insisting that it had already made significant concessions. Lawmakers from three other parties, including the president’s, rejected the idea of ​​toppling him and said they supported dialogue between the government and indigenous groups.

Ecuador’s Constitution allows lawmakers to remove presidents and call new elections during a political crisis or major mass mobilizations. This weekend’s sessions come after Lasso accused Conaie leader Leonidas Iza of trying to “overthrow the government”.

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