An Ecuadorean National Assembly member files suit against the assembly president for influencing votes. President admits she did, but says it's part of the game.
Ecuadorean National Assembly member Ronny Aleaga says the nation’s legislative body is blocking an investigation into the nation’s president for alleged corruption. Assembly President Elizabeth Cabezas says Aleaga is committing “espionage."
National Assembly Representative Ronny Aleaga filed a case with Ecuador’s Attorney General Monday against Cabezas and Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo, accusing them of trying to prevent the formation of a special legislative commission to investigate President Lenin Moreno for corruption.
"My case is for a specific crime, trafficking influences, that the National Assembly president confirmed in statements," Aleaga told reporters outside the attorney general’s offices in Ecuador’s capital of Quito.
The lawmaker filed the suit after Cabezas was recorded in a telephone conversation with Interior Minister Romo trying to pressure her into helping to prevent the creation of an investigatory commission of Moreno. Cabezas and Moreno are both members of Alianza PAIS political party created in 2006 by former president Rafael Correa.
In the leaked recording that has circulated widely on social media since late last week, Cabezas can be heard saying: "Hello, (Minister) Maria Paula. Let's see, the Ronny Aleaga issue has come up," referring to Aleaga’s proposal calling for a multi-party commission to look into evidence against the president for money laundering and holding tax haven accounts, illegal in Ecuador since 2017.
"But the (Social Christian Party) assembly members say that they are going to vote yes. Sister, we already told them to abstain and (vote) against (the measure), but what can the Social Christians do with these idiots uh ... (If they) vote (in favor) we’re f*cked."
Cabezas, who was speaking by phone to Romo from the National Assembly just prior to a vote on the measure, repeatedly insists that Romo contact the right-wing Social Christian assembly members to tell them to vote against Aleaga’s proposal.
"Call them, call them (Social Christians). Right now. I have to vote. It's urgent,” said the assembly president.
Cabezas admits the recording is real but denies any wrongdoing, calling her conversation with the interior minister "daily work of the assembly."
In a Monday press conference Cabezas said she has requested a special investigation by Ecuadorean authorities and National Police of legislature operations to prevent what she is calling “espionage,” referring to her conversation she didn’t know was being recorded within the assembly.
"We can not be under a kind of permanent espionage where any action that takes place within the National Assembly can to be used to destabilize, to generate chaos, sow doubts about the management that is being carried out. Obviously, you have to investigate this," said Cabezas to reporters.
In late February, Aleaga and members of Spain’s Podemos political party presented two cases of money laundering and corruption against President Moreno for laundering money in the purchase of a luxury apartment in Alicante, Spain, among other high-end purchases.
The president's popularity has fallen by 30 points over the past several month as the country's economy has remained stagnant and the government approves a multi-billion dollar International Monetary Fund loan.