QUITO (Reuters) – The oversight committee of Ecuador’s National Assembly failed on Saturday to muster the votes to approve a report recommending against voting to impeach President Guillermo Lasso on allegations of embezzlement.
Opposition politicians have pushed for impeachment hearings over allegations that Lasso turned a blind eye to alleged embezzlement related to a contract between the state-owned oil transport company Flopec and a private company.
Lasso has denied the allegations, saying the contract was signed in 2018, long before he became president in 2021, and that his administration made cost-effective changes to the deal based on the comptroller’s advice.
The report, which says there is no reason for Lasso’s trial or removal, was rejected by five of the nine committee members.
Despite the outcome of the committee vote, the report will now go to the full 137-member assembly, which will decide whether Lasso can be ousted.
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92 votes are needed to remove him, and legislators from the party of former President Rafael Correa – himself convicted of corruption – have promised 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.
Lasso’s lawyer has said the opposition was unable to establish what the alleged loss of funds occurred in connection with the contract.
Under Ecuador’s constitution, Lasso could call early presidential and legislative elections rather than face an impeachment vote.
(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Oliver Griffin, Editing by Franklin Paul)
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