The motion failed to gather enough votes to remove President Guillermo Lasso from office as talks with Indigenous protesters were suspended after a soldier was killed.

President Guillermo Lasso accused Indigenous leader Leonidas Iza of self-serving politics.
President Guillermo Lasso accused Indigenous leader Leonidas Iza of self-serving politics. (AFP)

Ecuador's opposition-led congress has failed to gather enough votes to impeach President Guillermo Lasso, as protests by Indigenous Ecuadorans over the high cost of living have persisted.

The motion garnered 80 of the 92 votes needed to remove Lasso from office, according to the results read aloud by the parliament's secretary, Alvaro Salazar, in a virtual session broadcast on social media on Tuesday.

President Guillermo Lasso, in a brief address to the nation earlier on Tuesday, accused Indigenous leader Leonidas Iza of self-serving politics, and said, "We will not negotiate with those who hold Ecuador hostage."

Iza's powerful Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), in turn, accused the government of "authoritarianism" and said Lasso would bear the consequences for "his hawkish policy."

Negotiations to end the more than two weeks of living cost protests by Indigenous Ecuadorians were dealt a blow after the killing of a soldier prompted the government to suspend participation in the negotiations.

The military said a soldier died and five police and seven soldiers were injured in an early-morning attack on a tanker truck escort in the country's east.

It said a group armed with "spears and guns" attacked uniformed personnel protecting a convoy of tankers headed for the so-called ITT block of oil fields in Orellana province, where more than a billion barrels are stored.

READ MORE: Indigenous Ecuador group holds talks with Lasso's govt

'Violent demonstrators'

Interior Minister Patricio Carillo expressed condolences to the family of fallen soldier Jose Chimarro in a tweet, and described the attackers as "violent demonstrators."

The second day of talks with Indigenous representatives scheduled for Tuesday morning failed to get under way as negotiators from the government did not show up.

Mediator Virgilio Saquicela, president of the National Assembly, announced that the government was "not present" as it was "conducting an analysis" of the early-morning events.

Iza referred to a "brutal attack" but said there was no proof protesters were responsible.

READ MORE: Ecuador military calls fuel price protests 'grave threat'

Ongoing unrest

Tuesday's fatality came on top of five demonstrators dead and hundreds of civilians and security personnel wounded in clashes between the security forces and protesters blockading key roads and disrupting supply lines. Some 150 people have been arrested, according to observers.

Crude is the South American country's main export, but production has been halved from about 520,000 barrels per day prior to the protests, the government said. Operations at more than 1,100 wells have been affected.

An estimated 14,000 protesters are taking part in a nationwide show of discontent against rising hardship in an economy dealt a serious blow by the coronavirus pandemic.

CONAIE, which called the protests, is credited with unseating three presidents between 1997 and 2005. Indigenous people make up more than a million of the South American nation's 17.7 million people.

READ MORE: Ecuador warns oil output could stop if protests continue

Source: AFP