Ecuadorian lawmakers began Saturday debating the possible impeachment of President Guillermo Lasso, who the same evening ended a state of emergency declared a week ago to stem indigenous protests over the cost of living.
At the request of MPs supporting former Socialist President Rafael Correa (2007-2017), the unicameral parliament began to meet just after 6 p.m. local time (2300 GMT) and virtually.
“135 (out of 137) members of the Assembly” are attending this session, Parliament said on its Twitter account. They are discussing Lasso’s impeachment due to a “serious political crisis and internal unrest” in the country.
The majority opposition, but divided within the assembly, blames the president for the “serious political crisis” that has shaken the country since June 13 with daily demonstrations and road blockades.
The latter is in power for a year and can speak to MPs, although it has not been specified in what form, as the head of state was recently diagnosed with COVID-19.
After the debates, MEPs have 72 hours to vote. A majority of 92 out of 137 votes is required for impeachment.
On Saturday night, President Lasso ended a state of emergency declared eight days ago in six of the country’s 24 provinces hardest hit by the protests, according to a new decree from the president’s office.
This curfew called for the mobilization of the army and a seven-hour night curfew for three provinces, including Pichincha, whose capital is Quito.
Nearly 14,000 indigenous protesters have been mobilized across the country to protest the rising cost of living and, in particular, to demand a cut in fuel prices, according to police, who estimate their numbers in the capital at nearly 10,000.
These debates opened precisely on the day of a first attempt at dialogue between leaders of the indigenous movement and several government ministers, under the auspices of Parliament Speaker Virgilio Saquicela.
“We asked for a dialogue to be opened. (…) This dialogue has started, there was no commitment of any kind, but simply the decision of Conaie (the spearhead of the organization of the demonstrations) to consult their base to appoint a commission to start this dialogue,” explained Mr Saquicela to the press, which judged “the government has shown itself openly”.
President Lasso, who was last supported by the army, accused the demonstrators on Friday of wanting to “carry out a coup”.
The violence claimed six lives and injured dozens. Quito is largely paralyzed and its access blocked by numerous roadblocks. Twice, on Thursday and Friday, the protesters attempted to enter the National Assembly premises, where they were pushed back by police.
On Saturday morning, hundreds of indigenous women in northern Quito held a traditional ritual before marching with anti-government slogans.
“The basic food basket is very expensive and our agricultural products (…) are worth nothing,” explains Miguel Taday, 39, a potato producer in Chimborazo (south).
“We will continue to fight here, up to the final consequences,” said Wilmer Umajinga, 35, who has been protesting in the capital since Monday.
In Quito, residents express their fatigue with closed shops and the shortage of certain products. Counter-demonstrations were met with shouts of “Iza (leader of the protesters), get out! “.