President Guillermo Lasso addresses the National Assembly at the opening of his impeachment trial. (AP)

President Guillermo Lasso addresses the National Assembly at the opening of his impeachment trial. (AP)


Timeline: Guillermo Lasso Dissolves Ecuador's National Assembly

By Jon Orbach

Facing impeachment, the Ecuadoran president used an unprecedented measure that sparks new elections. Get a timeline of the steps that led to this point. 

This timeline was initially published May 17, 2023 and has since been updated.

Early in the morning of May 17, Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso made good on a pledge he’d made a few weeks earlier. With his impeachment trial underway and his ouster almost certain, he dissolved the National Assembly. This constitutional measure he used, known as muerte cruzada, or “crossed death,” indicates that he would govern by decree until new general elections are held. The next round of elections was previously slated to take place 2025. 

The political showdown caps off a tough past year for the conservative Lasso. The former banker had been challenged by major protests, a stagnant economy, record levels of violence, opposition gains in big mayoral races, the loss of an eight-proposal referendum in February, and low approval. 

Then, a major test came on May 16, when his impeachment trial began. Opposition lawmakers accused Lasso of allowing embezzlement to go unhindered at state oil shipping firm Flopec. He rejected the charge, noting the contract was signed before he took office. 

It appeared likely that the necessary two-thirds of legislators—or 92 of 137 if all representatives were present—would have backed impeachment, given that Lasso faced hostile congressional blocs. One is the Union for Hope, a party linked to leftist former President Rafael Correa (2007–2017), an ardent Lasso critic who lives in Belgium and was sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison for bribery. Pachakutik, an indigenous party, also backed impeachment.

Still, while a March 2023 poll showed that only 22 percent of Ecuadorans had a positive view of the president, the figure for the assembly stood at 9 percent. 

What happens now is unprecedented. While the measure Lasso employed is constitutional, it first appeared in the 2008 version of the Magna Carta drafted during Correa’s mandate and has never been used. 

AS/COA Online looks at the events that led up to this pivotal moment.


April 12, 2021: Lasso narrowly beats Correa’s handpicked candidate to become Ecuador’s forty-seventh president. 

May 24, 2021: Lasso begins his term. 

June 28, 2022: The president survives a first impeachment attempt when lawmakers fall 12 votes shy of removing him from office in relation to a crisis set off by weeks of protests led by indigenous groups.

January 9, 2023: Ecuadoran media outlet La Posta reveals documents and recordings that allege that Danilo Carrera, Lasso’s brother-in-law, has ties with public officials engaging in drug trafficking and corruption, as well as heading an influence-peddling network run through public companies.

March 1: After La Posta’s report, a legislative commission recommends an impeachment process against Lasso.

March 4: The National Assembly approves the impeachment hearing against Lasso with 104 of 137 lawmakers voting in favor.

March 30: Ecuador’s Constitutional Court rules in favor of allowing the National Assembly to prosecute Lasso for failing to stop corruption. 

April 17: In a Financial Times interview, Lasso threatens that, should impeachment go forward, he would make use of the “crossed death” clause, which would trigger fresh elections for the presidency and the national legislature. 

April 24: Testimony begins before the assembly’s oversight committee

May 9: Following testimony, 88 of 116 present legislators—or three quarters—vote for the impeachment process to proceed to a vote.

May 14: Virgilio Saquicela, a key opposition figure, is reelected as president of the National Assembly. Saquicela has ample support among lawmakers who support Lasso’s removal from office. Just before he is reelected, he schedules the trial for May 16. 

May 16: The impeachment trial begins. Opposition lawmaker Viviana Veloz opens by calling Lasso the “outgoing president” and charging him with allowing corruption to take place in public firms. In addition, she replays La Posta audios set to music from The Godfather.

Lasso delivers his defense at the opening of the trial, saying: "[My accusers] have displayed unparalleled inventiveness ... They have created a fictitious situation that does not solve the problems of the public."

May 17: Lasso invokes “crossed death,” citing one of the three legal causes—serious political crisis and turmoil—as the rationale.

The military releases a statement of support for Lasso’s move, and the head of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces Gen. Nelson Proaño warns Ecuadorans against disrespecting the law. 

The leader of Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) Leonidas Iza warns Ecuador to “stay vigilant” and to form “permanent assemblies” to monitor Lasso, but doesn’t mention protests. Iza had previously promised an uprising should Lasso employ the crossed-death mechanism. 

May 18: Ecuador’s electoral authority sets August 20 as the tentative date for elections for both the presidency and the National Assembly. The winners would serve until mid-2025.

May 19: The Washington Post publishes an interview conducted the prior evening with Lasso in which he says doesn’t plan to run in the elections, describing this decision as a move “to achieve the common interest of Ecuadorans.” He says he aims to use his remaining time in office to push forward decrees related to security, infrastructure, education, and health.