The ceremony of possession of the new state ministers, held yesterday in the Yellow Hall of Carondelet Palace, ended with a surprise announcement by the President of the Republic, Lenin Moreno. When the act was about to conclude, the President announced that he had decided to “release” the functions that María Alejandra Vicuña had been fulfilling as Vice President.
Moreno explained that this was done so that she “can exercise without any type of interference her right to a legitimate defense”, against the accusations that are thrown against her, for alleged undue charges when she was an assembly member, six years ago.
At the same time, he communicated that these tasks were entrusted to the new Secretary General of the Presidency, José Agusto Briones. “That time and resources are always destined for a single objective: to serve Ecuadorians,working for the common good,” he added. A half hour after that announcement, Vicuña released a letter on social networks. There she indicated that she had requested the Head of State a leave without remuneration until next Monday, December 31, to defend herself and not affect the government’smanagement.
“Dear Mr. President. The process of self-defense that I must support in the Attorney General’s Office, for investigations motivated by complaints that were disseminated without any contrast in a media and with obvious malice last week,forces me to plan my self-defense with my legal team “Indicates the letter.
The Presidency of the Republic informed that this request of Vicuña should be sent to the National Assembly. The Minister of the Interior, María Paula Romo, and the private secretary of the Chief Executive, Juan Sebastián Roldán, are close collaborators of Moreno and had been asking him to make a decision in that regard. Vicuña presided over the Committee for the Reconstruction of Manabí and Esmeraldas (for the 2016 earthquake), also headed the Popular and Solidarity Economy Committee, and was the head of the Coordination with the Ecuadorian Institute of Social Security (IESS).
In addition, she was in charge of the articulation of the citizen man date expressed in the popular consultation. Minister María Paula Romo confirmed yesterday that Vicuña maintains her position as Vice President of the Republic.”Continue as Vice President. Her tasks have been delegated to the Secretary General of the Administration, so that she can dedicate all her time and effort to her defense, “she insisted.
Constitutionalist Ismael Quintana, on his side, recalled that the Magna Carta – in Article 149 -establishes that the Vice President, when she does not subrogate the President,will exercise the functions assigned to her. “In the same way that the President assigns functions, they can be withdrawn, given new ones or replaced,” he stressed.
The expert indicated that Vicuña, if she considers it so, can freely attend her office in the Vice Presidency. But he added that if Moreno eventually absent shimself from office, he should be subrogated by the Vice President, according to the constitutional mandate.
The Attorney General’s Office has opened a preliminary investigation against the Vice President, after a week ago an affidavit from Ángel Sagbay, an ex-adviser from Vicuña, who accuses her of having deducted between 300 and 1,400 dollars a month when she was working, was made public with her in the Assembly.
For yesterday it was foreseen that Sagbay would give his free version, voluntaril yand without oath in that institution, but the diligence was postponed until tomorrow, at 3:00 p.m. In the Office of the Prosecutor it was learned that Vicuña had requested, on the previous Friday, that the appearances be deferred,with the argument that she had to comply with another judicial proceeding, of which no details were disclosed.
The explanations were given by the politician Andrés Páez. He presented himself to acknowledge his signature in the complaint filed against the Second President for the alleged crimes of concussion and influence peddling.
Meanwhile,in the Assembly, Fabricio Villamar (Creo) said he hopes to add the support ofthe correísta group to submit a request for impeachment against Alejandra Vicuña. Last week, with 77 votes from 102 assembly members present in the Plenary, a resolution was approved by which the Legislative Branch demands there signation of the Vice President.
Vicuña was appointed to this position on January 6 by the Plenary, following the dismissal of Jorge Glas, sentenced to six years in prison for the corruption plot related to the construction company Odebrecht.
The situation faced by the Vice President revealed legal gaps in the control of the funds that the militants give to the political organizations.
Geovanny Macías, director of the Alianza Bolivariana Alfarista (ABA), in Guayas,movement to which Vicuña belongs, explained that in each territory there is a leader who is responsible for receiving the contributions for the movement.”Each canton is administered independently, there is no treasury, there are contributions (…) The leaders of cantons and parishes finance activities with contributions from their members. There is a leader who is responsible for receiving the contributions. ” As explained by Vicuña, Macías justified that the ABA leaders in each territory receive the contributions because”we do not have our own account” since it is a movement of fact and not of law. “A lot of our contributions go to AP.” (I)