Ecuador’s President Laso leaves the August elections

Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso said on Friday he would not run in the snap elections he called last month after he faces impeachment charges.

“I will not accept the candidacy for the presidency of the Republic in the August 20 elections,” Laso said in a speech on Friday afternoon outside the Carondelet Palace in Quito, surrounded by his family and cabinet.

Presidential and congressional elections are scheduled to be held in August after Lasso activates the “mutual death” clause in the constitution, dissolves Congress, and launches presidential and congressional elections.

The millionaire was facing trial for embezzlement in the opposition-controlled Congress. The charges relate to contracts awarded to state-owned oil tanker Flopec in 2018, three years before he took office. Laso has repeatedly denied the accusations and says they are politically motivated.

He was due to face trial in the National Assembly a few days after it closed.

“I did not do this to avoid a trial, but to stop this appalling plan to usurp institutions that continues today,” Lasso said in his speech on Friday.

The turmoil appears to have affected investor confidence, as last week Fitch Ratings changed its outlook for Ecuador from stable to negative, citing political instability.

If no presidential candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote in August, a runoff will take place on October 15.

Lasso would rule by decree, and be supervised by the Constitutional Court, until a new president was elected. In a video message later posted on Twitter, he said he would use the next few months to implement his plans for the next two years.

Despite receiving plaudits for the country’s Covid-19 vaccination drive and restructuring of some of its debt to China, the center-right Lasso administration has been met with hostility in Congress and has been hit with the drug-fueled crime surge set to dominate the campaign. Before.

Laso is unlikely to do well in the vote: his approval rating was only 13.9 percent before Congress dissolved.

The new president and lawmakers will serve the remainder of Lasso’s current term, until 2025, when another election will be held.

Sebastian Hurtado, president of Quito-based political risk advisory firm Provitas, said Laso’s decision not to run casts his “mutual death” declaration in a new light, given that he could have resigned and let his vice president, Alfredo Borrero, see out of the term.

“I think two years of lame-duck Borrero government was better than the turmoil and instability that a two-year election will bring to Ecuador with all the economic impact it will have.”

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