President of Ecuador Guillermo Lasso arrives at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan 18, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)
QUITO — A legislative commission in Ecuador recommended on Wednesday that President Guillermo Lasso be subject to an impeachment process over alleged corruption at public companies.
The recommendation, which the government called "an attack on reason," is the first step of a possible process.
For impeachment hearings to go ahead, a majority of the 137-member legislature must approve the commission's recommendation, and a formal petition from lawmakers must be made to the assembly president
The commission, comprised of seven mostly-opposition legislators, was convened to examine accusations that jobs and contracts at state businesses were given in exchange for bribes by people close to Lasso.
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"The report has been approved with six votes in favor and one against," commission president and opposition lawmaker Viviana Veloz said. "It recommends impeachment hearings against the President of the Republic Guillermo Lasso.
"When confidence in the president ends, there is no other remedy than to change leadership," she added.
Lasso's press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Legislators should justify their accusations, Minister of Government Henry Cucalon told local media, calling the effort "senseless and an attack on reason."
For impeachment hearings to go ahead, a majority of the 137-member legislature must approve the commission's recommendation, and a formal petition from lawmakers must be made to the assembly president.
Approval for the process from the constitutional court is also required.
Previously, the commission weighed whether to accuse Lasso of treason, before changing the accusations to crimes against state security and corruption.
Lasso has repeatedly clashed with the assembly, where he does not enjoy a majority, and some lawmakers tried to oust him last year during protests by indigenous organizations.
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Major indigenous organization CONAIE called for Lasso's resignation last week.
Last month the general manager of state-run oil company Petroecuador resigned after his home was among locations searched by the attorney general's office in a corruption probe.
Prosecutors also raided an office at the presidency, with the government saying at the time it would cooperate fully with graft investigations.