Ecuador’s embattled President Lasso will not seek re-election

Guillermo Lasso’s announcement comes weeks after he dissolved the legislature amid prospect of impeachment.

Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso addresses the National Assembly
Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso speaks during during a National Assembly session in Quito, Ecuador, on May 16 [File: Dolores Ochoa/Reuters]

Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso, who dissolved the country’s National Assembly last month amid an impeachment process against him, has announced that he will not run in early elections set for August.

Lasso said on Friday that he will not participate in the August 20 vote, and called on various political parties to unite in defence of democracy.

“I want to be clear I will not accept the nomination as a candidate for president for the next elections on August 20,” Lasso told reporters and members of his cabinet at the presidential palace on Friday.

“The work doesn’t stop, on the contrary it will re-double. There is no sense in me campaigning when the country needs me dedicated to citizens,” he said of his remaining days in office.

The right-wing former banker, who took office in 2021, has been governing by decree after invoking a constitutional mechanism in mid-May to dissolve the opposition-controlled National Assembly and cut his presidency short.

The move came as the legislature had been considering Lasso’s impeachment over allegations he had ignored warnings of embezzlement relating to a contract with state-owned oil transportation company Flota Petrolera Ecuatoriana (FLOPEC).

Lasso has denied wrongdoing and accused the National Assembly, which has tried to impeach him on two occasions, of fomenting a “political crisis”.

The president invoked a constitutional clause known as “two-way death” to dissolve the legislature.

The clause also allowed him to rule by decree for six months in exchange for ending his term early and holding new elections before his original term was set to end in 2025.

Opposition members accused Lasso of acting like a dictator and filed a lawsuit challenging the decision the next day.

The South American country has struggled with increased levels of violent crime and drug trafficking in recent years, as well as a worsening economic crisis. Ecuador was also hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The president and lawmakers elected in the August vote will be in office until the current term ends in 2025. If needed, a presidential run-off will be held on October 15.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies