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Ecuadorian Opposition Rejects Dissolution Of Parliament

Above Photo: Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso dissolved the National Assembly, the country’s unicameral parliament, on May 17. Guillermo Lasso/Twitter.

The majority of Ecuador’s political parties have rejected the dissolution of the National Assembly.

They argue that the grounds established in the constitution to dissolve it, do not exist at the moment.

On Wednesday morning, May 17, Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso decreed the dissolution of the National Assembly, the country’s unicameral parliament, using the “cross-death” constitutional mechanism. Lasso argued that there was a “serious political crisis and internal commotion” in the country, and that the dissolution of the opposition majority parliament was a “constitutional solution” and a “democratic action.” Lasso’s decision came a day after the parliament began an impeachment hearing against him. He is accused of corruption and embezzlement of public funds.

Following Lasso’s announcement, the left-wing opposition Citizen Revolution Movement (RC) rejected the dissolution of parliament, deeming it a “desperate and unconstitutional action.” The RC said that it was Lasso’s “strategy” to avoid the impeachment trial that could have removed him from office.

“The decree issued by President Guillermo Lasso is evidence of the triumph of the impeachment. This desperate and unconstitutional action is a strategy of a hopeless government that seeks to avoid the vote to remove it, without caring about the people. He is clinging to his post, instead of allowing the country to revive. The Citizen Revolution -as it has always said and maintained- places its positions at the disposal of the Ecuadorian people. This is the moment for the country to change. Lasso will not be able to stop the judgment of history. Soon the patient but present people will wake up, with our people we will triumph,” stated the RC.

The conservative Social Christian Party (PSC), Lasso’s former electoral partner, also questioned the legitimacy of Lasso’s move and rejected claims of a serious political and internal crisis.

“The President of the Republic can only use the cross-death when one or more of the grounds established in article 148 of the Constitution really exist. He argues, falsely, about a “serious political crisis and internal commotion,” which is one of the grounds established in said article, but it is public and notorious that such an event does not exist at the moment,” said the PSC in a statement.

The PSC announced that it would file a lawsuit of unconstitutionality in the Constitutional Court to demand suspension of the presidential decree.

The now former president of the National Assembly of Ecuador, Virgilio Saquicela, also deemed the grounds invoked by Lasso in the cross-death decree as “illegal.” Saquicela demanded that the Constitutional Court immediately rule on the president’s decision. He said that the legislators, now dismissed by the president’s measure, would respect the Constitutional Court’s ruling. He also said that if the decree is suspended, they will resume their duties.

CONAIE rejects the dissolution

The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), the country’s largest Indigenous organization, condemned the president’s decision, describing the dissolution of the parliament as “unconstitutional.”

“Cross-death is a constitutional mechanism, however, in the context in which it has been decreed, it is totally unconstitutional. In addition, it has not substantiated the existence of the cause of social commotion and political crisis for the use of this mechanism,” said Leonidas Iza Salazar, CONAIE’s president.

Iza Salazar requested that the Constitutional Court give its verdict on the case immediately. “We demand that the Constitutional Court pronounce immediately and in accordance with the current constitutional norm, in guarantee of the rights of the democratic order and of the Ecuadorian people and not allow a dictatorship disguised as a constitutional instrument,” he said.

The Indigenous leader criticized the head of state and his neoliberal economic policies. “He has been one of those responsible for the social crisis, the health and education crisis, and for the second largest migration wave in the last 40 years.”

Iza Salazar also slammed the president for “the prison crisis and the penetration of organized crime in the country’s prisons, which has turned Ecuador into a narco-state.”

He warned that “since Lasso is empowered to govern by decree, this circumstance could be used to strengthen neoliberal policies and favor business elites.”

In this regard, CONAIE’s leader called on its bases to “consolidate the National Assembly of Popular and Plurinational Power and build a consensus agenda from the popular sectors and confront the dictatorial model that the Lasso government intends to impose.”

Armed Forces support the dissolution

Meanwhile, the head of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces, General Nelson Proaño, through a television broadcast, expressed his support for the president’s decision, arguing that it was based on the constitution and therefore, it must be respected.

“The decision of the National Assembly to politically impeach the President is based on a constitutional provision. Similarly, the decision of the President of the Republic to dissolve the National Assembly is based on article 148 of the constitution. Therefore, it is subject to a constitutional norm and must be fully and completely respected by all citizens. I wish to remind Ecuadorians that the Armed Forces and the National Police are obedient and non-deliberative institutions and we fulfill our mission strictly by abiding by the constitution,” said Proaño.

Immediately after, Proaño warned that “the country will not accept any attempt to alter the constitutional order through violence aimed at attacking democracy. If that happens, the Armed Forces and the National Police will act firmly in compliance with our constitutional mission  to protect life and the rights of Ecuadorians.”

Early general elections

The dissolution of parliament triggered early presidential and legislative elections. On Wednesday afternoon, the president of the National Electoral Council, Diana Atamaint, in a press conference, said that the final call for these elections would be made on May 24, which must be held within a period of 90 days. Those elected will serve until May 2025, completing the current presidential and legislative term.

According to the CNE, Lasso, who will now govern for up to six months by decree with the control of the Constitutional Court, can be a candidate for the new general elections. Lasso’s lawyer, Pablo Encalada, has indicated that he will run in these elections.

Former progressive president and president of the RC, Rafael Correa, also deemed Lasso’s decision illegal, and pointed out that early elections are “a great opportunity to recover the homeland.” He stated that Lasso would lose the elections if he contested.

“The big loser is going to be Lasso, this desperate measure sinks him even more, if we go to elections, he is going to be crushed at the polls,” said Correa in an interview with C5N.

On Thursday, May 18, the CNE announced August 20 as the tentative date for holding early general elections.

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