Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso speaks during a press conference with his Costa Rican counterpart Rodrigo Chaves (not in photograph) at the Rafael Angel Calderon Guardia museum during Lasso's official visit to the country in San Jose, on Mar 1, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)
QUITO — A group of opposition legislators in Ecuador has formally requested to hold impeachment hearings against President Guillermo Lasso on allegations of corruption, which Lasso has vehemently denied.
Lawmakers earlier 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 alleged graft at state companies.
Ninety-two lawmakers from the 137-member body would need to approve Lasso's censure or removal from office if the process comes to a final vote
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.
READ MORE: Ecuador LegCo backs impeachment process against Lasso
The formal request, presented by a lawmaker from the party of former President Rafael Correa, had 59 signatures of support.
"In this accusation it will be demonstrated how President Guillermo Lasso Mendoza participated in a structure of corruption to obtain benefits for himself and others," the request said.
In a statement, the government rejected the effort.
"This request completely lacks the political and legal elements which would support a process against the President," the government said, adding the effort was a "destabilization" attempt by the assembly.
Proponents need approval from the constitutional court for an impeachment trial to take place.
Ninety-two lawmakers from the 137-member body would need to approve Lasso's censure or removal from office if the process comes to a final vote.
READ MORE: Ecuador lawmakers declassify documents to impeach Lasso
"The president is politically responsible for crimes of extortion and embezzlement. This assembly will establish political responsibility and the justice system must establish criminal responsibility," said Viviana Veloz, who presented the request.
Veloz said there was "abundant" evidence for the impeachment request, adding that facts point to embezzlement occurring at state companies like Petroecuador. She said she was confident the request would get the needed 92 votes.
Lasso supporters have scoffed at what they say are desperate attempts by the opposition to tie Lasso, a conservative who has an antagonistic relationship with the national assembly, to a "soap opera."