QUITO, Ecuador — Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso said Friday he will not seek reelection in the early elections prompted by his decision to dissolve the National Assembly two weeks ago.
Lasso, who disbanded the assembly just when it appeared on the verge of ousting him in impeachment proceedings, announced his decision not to run in Aug. 20 balloting at a news conference surrounded by members of his Cabinet and family.
“This has been the greatest honor of my life, but I love democracy way beyond the role of president,” Lasso said. "If my duty as president requires me to give up my position and protect democracy, then I will do so. Without fear and with a clear conscience.”
Lasso, a conservative former banker, was elected in 2021 on a business-friendly platform and clashed from the start with the left-leaning majority coalition in the 137-member National Assembly.
In May, lawmakers launched impeachment proceedings against him on allegations that he failed to intervene to end a faulty contract between the state-owned oil transport company and a private tanker company.
Faced with likely removal from office on what he called frivolous charges, Lasso disbanded the National Assembly, calling it “the best possible decision,” giving Ecuadorians “the power to decide their future in the next elections.”
Ecuador's constitution includes a provision that allows the president to disband the assembly during a political crisis, but then requires new elections for both the assembly and presidency.
Mauricio Alarcón, an analyst with Ecuador's nongovernment organization Citizenship and Development Foundation, praised Lasso's decision to step aside, telling The Associated Press that the level of confidence in the president “had hit rock bottom.”
An estimated 13.4 million Ecuadoreans will go to the polls in August to elect president, vice-president and 137 legislators. They will complete the current term of office, which end in May 2025. If no winner is declared in a first round, a second one is scheduled for Oct. 15.