Ecuador opposition makes formal request to hold Lasso impeachment hearings

  • World
  • Friday, 17 Mar 2023

FILE PHOTO: Legislators of Ecuador's National Assembly attend a session to debate a report recommending the opening of impeachment hearings against President Guillermo Lasso, in Quito, Ecuador March 4, 2023. REUTERS/Karen Toro

QUITO (Reuters) -A group of opposition legislators in Ecuador has formally requested to hold impeachment hearings against President Guillermo Lasso on allegations of corruption, which Lasso has vehemently denied.

Lawmakers earlier this month backed a report accusing Lasso of connections to possible crimes against state security and public administration, amid investigations by the attorney general's office into alleged graft at state companies.

Legislators also voted to declassify files related to corruption investigations in search of evidence to shore up the impeachment attempt, but neither Lasso nor any of his family members appeared in the documents.

The formal request, presented by a lawmaker from the party of former President Rafael Correa, had 59 signatures of support.

"In this accusation it will be demonstrated how President Guillermo Lasso Mendoza participated in a structure of corruption to obtain benefits for himself and others," the request said.

In a statement, the government rejected the effort.

"This request completely lacks the political and legal elements which would support a process against the President," the government said, adding the effort was a "destabilization" attempt by the assembly.

Proponents need approval from the constitutional court for an impeachment trial to take place.

Ninety-two lawmakers from the 137-member body would need to approve Lasso's censure or removal from office if the process comes to a final vote.

"The president is politically responsible for crimes of extortion and embezzlement. This assembly will establish political responsibility and the justice system must establish criminal responsibility," said Viviana Veloz, who presented the request.

Veloz said there was "abundant" evidence for the impeachment request, adding that facts point to embezzlement occurring at state companies like Petroecuador. She said she was confident the request would get the needed 92 votes.

Lasso supporters have scoffed at what they say are desperate attempts by the opposition to tie Lasso, a conservative who has an antagonistic relationship with the national assembly, to a "soap opera."

(Reporting by Alexandra ValenciaWriting by Julia Symmes CobbEditing by Leslie Adler)

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