Ecuador could hold early elections on Aug. 20: electoral court

Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso addresses the nation after he dissolved the National Assembly, in Quito

By Alexandra Valencia

QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuador could hold early legislative and presidential elections on Aug. 20, the electoral court said on Thursday, a day after President Guillermo Lasso dissolved the National Assembly by decree and brought forward the vote scheduled for 2025.

Lasso invoked the constitution's so-called "two-way death" provision on Wednesday, which allows the president to call elections for both his post and the assembly under certain circumstances, including if actions by the legislature are blocking the functioning of government.

The embattled leader cited Ecuador's serious political crisis and domestic turmoil as reasons for making the move.

Lasso faces an impeachment attempt by opposition politicians over accusations he disregarded warnings of embezzlement related to a contract at state-owned oil transportation company Flopec. He has denied the accusations.

Lasso will remain in office and govern by decree until his successor and a new legislature are elected, according to the constitution.

The head of Ecuador's electoral council, Diana Atamaint, told local channel Teleamazonas the vote will be set for Sunday, Aug. 20, according to a preliminary timetable and in compliance with local laws, adding the date must be approved by the full court.

If there is a run-off election for president, it could be held on Oct. 15, Atamaint said.

Opposition lawmakers are hoping the Constitutional Court, Ecuador's highest court, will rule quickly to block Lasso's dissolution, which they have described as illegal.

Lawmakers of the dissolved National Assembly said they will respect the court's decision, even if it upholds the president's actions.

"There is a fairly high probability that the decree will be declared unconstitutional and that the Assembly will return to its duties and go back to the impeachment (of Lasso)," said opposition politician Esteban Torres.

Lawmakers elected to power in the early elections would only serve until regularly scheduled elections are held in 2025.

(Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Nick Macfie)