In this handout picture released by Ecuador's Secretariat for Communications, President Guillermo Lasso speaks to media members after a Security Cabinet in Esmeraldas, Ecuador, on April 12, 2023. Lasso said he would dissolve congress and call early elections if he does not muster enough support among legislators ahead of a potential impeachment hearing, the Financial Times reported on April 18, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)
Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso said he would dissolve congress and call early elections if he does not muster enough support among legislators ahead of a potential impeachment hearing, the Financial Times said on Tuesday.
The comments, in an interview with Lasso, come a day after lawyers representing him asked lawmakers to declare the impeachment hearing inadmissible, denying the accusations of embezzlement against him.
The oversight committee will begin hearings for the impeachment trial this week
"Correct, correct. That’s what I declare," the newspaper quoted Lasso as saying in response to a query whether he would invoke a constitutional clause known as "mutual death" to force elections for both his own job and a new congress.
The constitution allows Lasso to call elections for both his post and the assembly instead of facing hearings, in a procedure widely described as "mutual death".
Opposition lawmakers in Ecuador's National Assembly have pushed for such hearings since last month. The Supreme Court gave the green light for the hearings, which could end in Lasso being censured or dismissed.
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Opposition lawmakers will need 92 votes from the 137 members of the assembly to find Lasso guilty if the process reaches the final stage.
The embezzlement accusations concern a shipping contract for crude oil between public company Flopec and private sector business Amazonas Tanker Pool Company LLC.
Last month, an Ecuadorian opposition lawmaker said there was compelling evidence to present against Lasso at an impeachment hearing, including irregularities in the crude oil shipping contract.
The oversight committee will begin hearings for the impeachment trial this week.