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Impeachment Season Comes Around Again in Ecuador

Posted April. 21, 2005 23:19,   


On April 20, Ecuadorian President Lucio Gutierrez (48) sought refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, after being impeached from office by Congress.

On the day, the Ecuadorian Congress decided to oust the president for the recent incessant anti-government protests, with support from all of opposition party members (62) out of 100 lawmakers. Immediately after the decision was made, Vice President Alfredo Palacio (68) took over the presidency.

Outline of the Incident-

As the impeachment by Congress was carried out, thousands of anti-government protesters armed with weapons and supporters of the president occupied the Congress Hall, a volatile situation that threatened to turn into a bloody conflict at any second.

As the situation deteriorated, the military, which has been a traditional political operator behind the scene, declared that they would withdraw their support for the embattled president in order to protect public security.

President Gutierrez applied for political asylum to the Brazilian embassy immediately following the passage of the impeachment bill against him, and the Brazilian government granted his request.

The newly-elected President Palacio proclaimed in his inaugural speech that, as of that day, Gutierrez’s insolences and the public’s worries had ended. President Palacio, a former cardiologist by profession, is expected to conduct a policy in favor of the poor, under the left-wing ideology.

Cause of the Political Crisis-

The incident occurred after President Gutierrez mobilized the Congress, forcing it to pass a bill to remove Supreme Court judges who had tried to impeach him for corruption last December.

After the incident, constitution experts said that the vote by Congress was unconstitutional, and a considerable number of the heads of local bodies among the opposition strongly demanded the president to step down. The public sentiment turned away from President Gutierrez as well.

Protests demanding the president’s resignation eventually broke out, centering around the capital Ecuadorian capital of Quito, beginning April 13. On April 20, the protests developed into a riot, with protesters breaking into the Congress Hall and destroying the furniture and installations.

Experts noted that the cause of the uprising was basically attributable to the president’s abrupt turn toward a pro-American foreign policy and an extremely stringent economic policy, in contrast to the expectations of native communities and left-wing factions that contributed to the president’s election through their all-out support.

Lately, President Gutierrez was even alienated by the U.S. for a series of scandals involving his inner circle.

Political instability in Ecuador lingers on as a life in political asylum begins for President Gutierrez, who became the third Ecuadorian leader to be expelled from office in the past ten years.