Bloomberg — Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso dissolved the opposition-held congress to avoid his looming impeachment, an unprecedented move that triggers snap elections in the Andean nation.
“I have signed Executive Decree 741, with the objective of dissolving the National Assembly and requesting the electoral council to call elections,” Lasso wrote in a tweet Wednesday. “Ecuadoreans: this is the best decision to give a constitutional solution to the political crisis.”
Lasso made the announcement after 88 lawmakers voted to continue the impeachment trial on May 10 and the opposition kept control of the National Assembly in a midterm internal voting on May 14. Impeachment proceedings against him started on Tuesday. He will govern by decree until a new president is elected.
The nation’s armed forces and national police called on Ecuadoreans to respect the law and not resort to violence after the announcement.
Ecuador’s sovereign bonds due 2030 slumped 5.2 cents on the dollar to 46.1 cents, the lowest since March, after the announcement.
Backers of self-exiled former President Rafael Correa, the conservative Social Christian Party, as well as center-left parties Pachakutik and Democratic Left accused Lasso of embezzlement for failing to cancel an oil shipping contract. He denied the allegations, adding that under his watch the state oil shipping firm last year made a record net profit.
The historically unprecedented move under Ecuador’s 15-year old constitution triggers a snap presidential and legislative election, which has led it to be colloquially known as “mutual death” since Lasso is also putting his own job on the line. The opposition needed 92 votes to replace him with his vice president, Alfredo Borrero.
While Lasso pulled off a successful Covid-19 vaccination program and stabilized fiscal accounts, completing an IMF deal for the first time in more than 20 years, he faced stiff opposition from Correa, who called the move to dissolve congress “illegal.” Lasso’s popularity has declined amid a crime wave that has seen Ecuador’s murder rate surge beyond those of Colombia and Mexico.
Whoever is elected in an upcoming vote will complete the regular term until mid-2025. Lasso has said he will seek the presidency again.
Indigenous organization CONAIE, which led violent protests against his government in 2022, said that it would take to streets again if he were to use his right to dissolve the legislature.
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