Ecuador opposition seeks president’s ouster after violent protests over fuel hike

A group of opposition lawmakers in Ecuador is pushing for the removal of conservative President Guillermo Lasso after nearly two weeks of mass protests led by indigenous groups demanding lower fuel and food prices, though other legislators say they will not back his ouster.

The demonstrations, which began June 13, have led to at least six civilian deaths and included multiple attacks on security forces.

The protests have worsened Lasso’s already adversarial relationship with the national assembly, whose lawmakers have blocked his major economic proposals as he has struggled to contain rising violence that he blames on drug gangs.

Lawmakers from the opposition UNES movement, loyal to former leftist President Rafael Correa, called on Twitter for elections — not scheduled until 2025 — to be moved forward.

The constitution allows lawmakers to remove presidents and call elections during a political crisis or mass unrest.

“The country can’t take it anymore,” UNES lawmaker Fausto Jarrin said. Jarrin formally asked the legislature to convene a debate on the removal process. “Dialogue is being broken by all sides, with violence.”

Lawmakers from other parties would individually support the efforts, Jarrin said.

Lasso’s removal would require the support of 92 of the assembly’s 137 lawmakers. Lasso can also dissolve the legislature and call for elections.

The government criticized the UNES move, insisting it has made significant concessions through decree and is willing to discuss the issues. Lawmakers from three other parties including Lasso’s rejected the move to oust him and said they support dialogue between the government and indigenous groups.

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