Ecuador Indigenous group urges court to agree to impeachment of President Lasso

FILE PHOTO: Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso participates in an interview at Carondelet Palace, in Quito, Ecuador April 26, 2022. REUTERS/Santiago Arcos

QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuador's largest Indigenous organization on Tuesday urged the country's top court to move forward with impeachment hearings against President Guillermo Lasso, piling on pressure as a decision draws near.

Judges of the Constitutional Court could decide as early Tuesday evening if they will grant a request by opposition lawmakers to begin impeachment hearings against Lasso, who is facing accusations of corruption over dealings in public companies, allegations that he denies.

A decision by the court to allow impeachment hearings could increase the possibility that Lasso - a conservative who has regularly clashed with lawmakers - will dissolve Ecuador's National Assembly and call early elections.

"We hope that the Constitutional Court does not wait for the people to go to the streets," said Leonidas Iza, president of the country's powerful Indigenous confederation CONAIE, following a march with other groups in Quito.

A series of sometimes deadly protests last year led by CONAIE resulted in talks in which Lasso made concessions around economic and environmental policy.

Some lawmakers opposed to his security and economic proposals tried and failed to remove him in an impeachment process last year.

If the process comes to a final vote, 92 lawmakers from the 137-member legislature would need to approve Lasso's censure or removal from office.

Lasso's supporters have scoffed at what they say are desperate attempts by the opposition to tie Lasso to what they call a "soap opera."

The government trusts in the authority of the court, Minister of Government Henry Cucalon told local media, adding that Lasso will respect whatever decision the judges reach.

"The option to dissolve the assembly and call for early general elections is a tool enshrined in the constitution, and is totally legal," Cucalon said.

"It will be up to the president to evaluate that situation," he added.

(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Carolina Pulice; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)

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