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Opposition Lawmakers in Ecuador Begin Efforts to Oust Lasso

Riot police officers stand guard during an anti-government protest in Quito, Ecuador, June 23, 2022. REUTERS/Santiago Arcos

A group of opposition lawmakers in Ecuador are pushing for the removal of conservative President Guillermo Lasso, after nearly two weeks of massive protests led by indigenous groups demanding lower fuel and food prices.

The demonstrations, sometimes violent and that began on June 13, have so far left six civilians dead and multiple attacks against the security forces.

The protests have worsened Lasso’s already fractious relationship with the National Assembly, whose lawmakers have blocked his main economic proposals, as he struggles to contain rising violence he blames on drug gangs.

The assembly members of the opposition UNES movement, loyal to former President Rafael Correa, asked on their Twitter accounts that the elections, scheduled for 2025, be brought forward, and said that they were making their position available.

Ecuador’s constitution allows lawmakers to remove leaders and call elections if the country experiences a political crisis or mass unrest.

“The country does not give more,” UNES assemblyman Fausto Jarrín told Reuters, informing that they will make a formal request for a meeting to be convened. “The dialogue was broken on all sides and with violence.”

Legislators from other parties would individually support the efforts, Jarrín said.

The Legislature needs 46 signatures in support of the president’s impeachment request for a debate to be called.

His removal itself would require the support of 92 of the 137 legislators in the Assembly and Lasso himself can also dissolve the legislature and call elections.

“We have been insistent on the will to dialogue, we have made concessions, we have drafted several decrees and even so, irrationality is what wants to prevail in the country and we are not going to allow it,” said the Minister of the Government, Francisco Jiménez, to a local radio. “We have an obligation to the entire country and we are going to fulfill it.”

Riot police officers stand guard during an anti-government protest amid a standoff between President Guillermo Lasso’s government and majority indigenous protesters demanding an end to emergency measures, in Quito, Ecuador, June 23, 2022. REUTERS/Santiago Arcos

WOUNDED MILITARY

Despite some concessions from the government, rapprochement between officials and protesters led by the indigenous group CONAIE has been stalled for several days.

The indigenous leaders have demanded the withdrawal of the public force and the end of the special measures implemented for six provinces before the two parties can discuss a list of 10 demands, which include lower fuel prices and the cessation of oil expansion. and mining.

Lasso has announced subsidized fertilizers, forgiveness of bank debts and budget increases for health and education and on Thursday removed the uniformed officers from a cultural institution, allowing it to be used by protesters.

But violent clashes on Thursday night have raised tensions once again, although CONAIE said it would hold a meeting on Friday to weigh up a government response to its demands.

The Ministry of the Interior confirmed the death of four people in the context of the protests and the Ministry of Health has said that two people died in ambulances delayed by roadblocks.

Armed people attacked a military convoy trying to help truckers carrying food and medicine move their vehicles through access roads to Quito, said Edwin Adatty, commander of the city’s joint task force.

Seventeen soldiers were injured and three vehicles burned, according to the commander.

“We are not talking about a peaceful demonstration, we are talking about acts of premeditated and coordinated violence,” he said.

Residents of the capital complained that domestic gas supplies are running out, as are products in supermarkets.

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Written by Editor TLN

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