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New Ecuadorian Vice President: is the third time the charm?

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In less than two years, two Ecuadorian vice-presidents have resigned  after facing corruption scandals

New Ecuadorian Vice President: is the third time the charm?

On December 4, María Alejandra Vicuña, former vice president of Ecuador, presented her resignation through an official statement, where she stated that "(...) I will present my irrevocable resignation to my position because I rather he (referring to Lenin Moreno) has someone else to finally assume the great responsibilities he entrusted me".

Leer en español: Nuevo vicepresidente ecuatoriano: ¿la tercera es la vencida?

.@marialevicuna presenta su renuncia al cargo de Vicepresidenta y agradece a todos quienes formaron parte de su gestión. pic.twitter.com/aa66kX17cZ

— Vicepresidencia (@Vice_Ec) 4 de diciembre de 2018

Before the departure of Vicuña, Lenin Moreno had to present, once again, a short list with the name of the future vice president. Among the possible candidates there was Nancy Vasco, Agustín Albán, and Otto Sonnenholzner. It was interesting that the three names chosen had no relation to politics. El Comercio explains this by stating that, "there was talking in recent days about an apolitical profile, above figures of national life or politicians inside and outside the Government."

The chosen one was the economist, broadcaster and businessman Otto Sonnenholzner, who obtained 94 votes in favor in the Congress. At the beginning of the oath at the Congress he affirmed that: "I guarantee that the national interest will always prevail over private interests or any political or economic group. In the same way, he invited to re-trust the institutions. We have to believe again, to trust. Because I guarantee that if we do that we will move forward".

#OttoSonnenholzner es designado Vicepresidente de la República en la sesión del #Pleno559, con 94 votos afirmativos, 27 negativos y 7 abstenciones. #ElecciónVicepresidente

— Asamblea Nacional (@AsambleaEcuador) 11 de diciembre de 2018

Former vice-presidents

María Alejandra Vicuña is being investigated judicially by the so-called Caso Diezmos, after she was accused by her former adviser Ángel Sagbay, of demanding money in exchange for him remaining in office, when Vicuña was an assembly member between 2012 and 2014, as remember The Universe. Upon learning of the complaint, Vicuña argued that Sagbay, "until recently demanded public office, contracts, loans of money and now is the champion of transparency," according to El Comercio.

Despite defending herself, Vicuña had to resign her position and let the investigation run its course.

On the other hand, former Vice President Jorge Glas was removed from his position when there appeared certain several differences with the president. Glas linked President Moreno in some audios that involved theOdebrecht case.

As a result of this, he had to issue a preventive order. Later, Glas was sentenced to 6 years in prison for links with the Brazilian company Odebrecht, despite he was the one blaming Moreno. According to RT, "on January 3, 2018, President Moreno reported that Vice President Glas had ceased his functions permanently."

At the end of October, Glas started a hunger strike, in protest against his unjust imprisonment. However, due to his delicate state of health, he had to be transferred to the Social Rehabilitation Center of Latacunga.

Hoy Jorge Glas cumple UN MES de huelga de hambre en la cárcel de Latacunga.

A pesar del pedido de sus familiares, la iglesia y defensores de DDHH el gobierno ignora sus pedidos, como preso político, lo están dejando morir.

Únete y denuncia #Glas1MesHuelgaDeHambre
Cc: @CIDH pic.twitter.com/RXbcSSeVCl

— Jorge Glas (@JorgeGlas) 20 de noviembre de 2018

Maybe you're interested in reading: Julian Assange: Ecuador will no longer pay for his expenses 
 

Morneo's approaches to the media

Sonnenholzner is currently director of the Tropicana FM radio station in Guayaquil, as well as being part of the Ecuadorian Radio Broadcasting Assembly (AER). It is clear that with the election of a vice president close to the media, Moreno is still trying to remove that brand that pursues him: to have some resemblance to former president Rafael Correa.

Correa accussed media of being "corrupt press", and even won a trial against the directors of the newspaper El Universal, for the publication of a column "about the police revolt that took place in the South American country that same year, which the president described as 'offensive' ", recalls El Imparcial.

Will Sonnenholzner be the last vice president of this presidential period?

Moreno's government goes until 2021, so Sonnenholzner will be in charge for a little over 19 months. However, after a week as vicepresident, Sonnenholzner has already been accused of being involved in a couple of scandals.

On one hand, there is tax evasion. The accusation made by the magistrate of the National Court of Justice, Juan Francisco Morales, states that in 2017, the new official paid an income of USD 46.86, in violation of Article 83, which establishes that all Ecuadorians have to pay the attributes established by law.

Another accusation is revealed by the newspaper El Universal, which says that two of the companies managed by Sonnenholzner had direct contract with the State. This is not allowed by the Ecuadorian constitution, because article 113 claims that:

"They cannot be candidates of popular election: Those who when registering their candidacy have a contract with the State, as individuals or as representatives or attorneys of legal persons, provided that the contract has been concluded for the execution of public works, provision of public service or exploitation of natural resources".

Even though he has only been in office for a week, it is too early to predict his future. Although he has been accused of two violations of the Ecuadorian constitution, it will be necessary to wait if the accusations prosper or if, otherwise, they are not so important in the new position he has.

 

LatinAmerican Post | Laura Viviana Guevara Muñoz

Translated from "Nuevo vicepresidente ecuatoriano: ¿la tercera es la vencida?"

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