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IMMINENT WARNING: ECUADORIAN PRESIDENT LASSO DISSOLVES CONGRESS AS IT MOVES TO IMPEACH HIM

May 19, 2023

Julia Tsarnas, SOUTHCOM Team

Álvaro Picón, Evan Beachler, Editor; Jennifer Loy, Chief Editor


Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso[1]


Event: On Wednesday, May 17, Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso dissolved the National Assembly to avoid impeachment, applying a previously untried constitutional rule called “muerte cruzada” (mutual death) and accusing the National Assembly of unjustly destabilizing the government for political gain. The “muerte cruzada” rule triggers presidential and legislative elections, allowing Lasso to rule by decree until then. The National Electoral Council has a week to decide when these new elections will occur. The National Assembly dissolved as they were ready to move toward Lasso´s impeachment. Lasso is accused of turning a blind eye to embezzlement in a contract between an oil tanker and Flopec, a state-run shipping company.[2] While there have been no protests against the dissolution of the National Assembly, this decision has created political instability and a potential constitutional crisis within Ecuador. The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) previously organized protests against Lasso, but they have not yet called for protests over the dissolution of Congress.[3]


Significance: Lasso’s dissolution of the National Assembly will almost certainly foster political instability in Ecuador. Lasso’s ruling by decree will likely generate dissent from the Ecuadorian public and international NGOs, but widespread violent protests are unlikely to emerge. While the Ecuadorian public will very likely disapprove of the dissolution of the National Assembly, they will likely view the move as a political maneuver to avoid impeachment rather than a threat to democracy. The public will likely perceive Lasso’s invocation of the “muerte cruzada” rule as beneficial in the long term, as it triggers new elections. International NGOs will likely condemn the disbandment of the National Assembly and accuse Lasso of being dictatorial. However, they are unlikely to organize mass protests against Lasso as it would likely spark additional political insecurity before the elections. Previous protest organizers such as the CONAIE will likely threaten with protests to keep Lasso in check to prevent abuses of power. Lasso is very unlikely to enact controversial executive orders and will likely try to keep a low profile during the interim period before the election. Once the elections draw nearer, Lasso will likely campaign on the corruption within the National Assembly and market himself as a servant to the people who wants to cleanse the government of political corruption.


Recommendations

  • The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) recommends that the National Police of Ecuador increase security near the presidential palace, especially surrounding the president’s residence. We recommend that Lasso’s security team temporarily close the museum inside of the presidential protections to the public. If that is not possible, we recommend heightened security and ensuring metal detectors are utilized before entrance into the palace.

  • We recommend that the National Police of Ecuador monitor SOCMINT to prepare for and anticipate organized protests against the government. Monitoring social media will enable the Ecuadorian government and armed forces to prepare by training forces on riot protocols to minimize casualties if violent protests arise.

  • CTG recommends that citizens living near government buildings in Quito make contingency safety plans to return to their residences in case of violent protests. We recommend that Quito citizens remain cautious and vigilant to detect if peaceful protests have the potential to turn violent. Some indicators to watch out for include groups of people aggressive toward the police, wearing matching masks, and the early stages of crowd surge.

  • If there is any additional and or critical information please contact us at The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) by Telephone 202-643-2848 or email info@counterterrorismgroup.com

 

[2] Ecuador’s president dissolves Congress to avoid impeachment, The Economist, May 2023, https://www.economist.com/the-americas/2023/05/18/ecuadors-president-dissolves-congress-to-avoid-impeachment

[3] Ecuador assembly begins impeachment hearing against President Lasso, Reuters, May 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/ecuador-assembly-begins-impeachment-hearing-against-president-lasso-2023-05-16/

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