Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso delivers a speech at the Foreign Ministry in Santo Domingo, on Mar 25, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)
QUITO — Ecuador's constitutional court said on Wednesday that impeachment hearings for embezzlement against conservative President Guillermo Lasso, requested by opposition lawmakers over alleged corruption at state companies, can proceed.
The decision may make it more likely that Lasso will dissolve the assembly and call early elections for both his post and legislators' seats.
The court on Wednesday decided to allow a hearing on embezzlement accusations to proceed but ruled against letting two other accusations relating to alleged abuse of power to move forward
The government rejects the impeachment leveled at Lasso, the president's press office said in a message posted on Twitter, but will respect the court's decision and ratify Lasso's innocence.
READ MORE: Ecuador lawmakers declassify documents to impeach Lasso
Fifty-nine opposition lawmakers formally requested the hearings in mid-March, accusing Lasso of involvement with embezzlement and bribery, which he has always denied.
The court on Wednesday decided to allow a hearing on embezzlement accusations to proceed but ruled against letting two other accusations relating to alleged abuse of power to move forward.
The court's approval enables the assembly to hold the hearings but does not constitute a backing of the claims by judges.
"This court exhorts the institutions involved in the impeachment proceedings to always act within the rights provided by the constitution and the rule of law," the court said in a statement.
Lawmakers this month backed a report accusing Lasso of connections to possible crimes against state security and public administration, amid investigations by the attorney general's office into suspected graft at state companies.
Legislators also voted to declassify files related to corruption investigations in search of evidence to shore up the impeachment attempt, but neither Lasso nor any of his family members appeared in the documents.
Backers of the efforts need 92 votes from the 137-member assembly to censure or remove Lasso if the process reached a final vote.
READ MORE: Ecuador LegCo backs impeachment process against Lasso
Opposition figures, led by lawmakers from the party of former President Rafael Correa, have said they are confident they can reach that figure.
The constitution enshrines so-called two-way death – allowing Lasso to call elections for both his post and the assembly instead of facing hearings.
Those chosen in the moved-forward vote will only serve until the regularly scheduled 2025 elections take place.