Ecuador's Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday the opposition-dominated National Assembly can take up the question of whether to impeach President Guillermo Lasso over allegations of crimes against state security and corruption. The ruling was only a first step. The congress still must follow a formal process that requires the presentation of evidence and arguments before legislators may vote on impeachment. The court, which is the interpreter and guarantor of Ecuador's constitution, gave the go-ahead for impeachment proceedings on a 6-3 vote by the justices.
The issue was put before the court by the unicameral legislature, a body of 137 legislators in which a majority is held by opposition parties led by the Union for Hope party, which has ties to former President Rafael Correa, who governed in 2007-2017. Lasso, a conservative former banker, began his four-year term in May 2021. Allegations have been raised that the president's brother-in-law, Danilo Carrera, has links with public officials involved in corruption and drug trafficking.
In urging the court to reject the matter, Lasso said there was no evidence to justify the accusations. The National Assembly now has up to 45 days to complete the impeachment process against Lasso. Removing the president will require the votes of at least 92 of the 137 legislators. There is constitutional provision that would allow Lasso to dissolve the legislature and then govern by decree for six months while running for re-election. But analysts think that unlikely due to his low popularity among Ecuadorians.