This handout picture released by the Ecuadorian Presidency shows Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso (center) heading a Security Council meeting at the Carondelet Palace in Quito on April 27, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)
QUITO – The oversight committee of Ecuador's National Assembly on Saturday failed to muster up the votes to approve a report recommending against a vote to impeach President Guillermo Lasso over embezzlement accusations.
Opposition politicians have pushed for impeachment hearings on accusations Lasso turned a blind eye to alleged embezzlement related to a contract between state-owned oil transportation company Flopec and a private business.
Ninety-two votes are needed to remove Lasso, and lawmakers from the party of ex-President Rafael Correa – himself convicted of corruption – have pledged their 47 votes in favor
Lasso has denied the allegations, saying the contract was signed in 2018 – long before he became president in 2021 – and that his administration made profitable changes to the deal based on advice from the comptroller.
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The report, which says there is no cause for Lasso's trial or removal, was shot down by five of the committee's nine members.
Despite the outcome of the committee vote, the report will now pass to the plenary of the 137-member assembly, which will decide whether to possibly remove Lasso.
Ninety-two votes are needed to remove him, and lawmakers from the party of ex-President Rafael Correa – himself convicted of corruption – have pledged their 47 votes in favor.
Other opposition parties are divided on whether to back Lasso's removal, while his allies have said they have enough votes to block the motion.
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Lasso's lawyer has said the opposition failed to establish what alleged loss of funds took place in relation to the contract.
Under Ecuador's constitution, Lasso could call early presidential and legislative elections rather than face a removal vote.