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Ecuador's highest court on Wednesday ruled that Congress has the authority to pursue the impeachment of President Lenin Moreno, potentially opening the door for the removal of the conservative president.
The Constitutional Court's ruling is the latest twist in a deepening political crisis in the Andean nation that has been rocked by weeks of anti-government protests.
The court said Congress can pursue the impeachment of Moreno, but it did not make a definitive ruling on the merits of the case.
The ruling was a victory for the opposition, which has been pushing for Moreno's ouster since he took office in 2017. The opposition accuses Moreno of a series of misdeeds, including corruption and mismanaging the country's economy.
Moreno has denied any wrongdoing and has fought back against the impeachment effort. He accuses his opponents of plotting a “coup” against him.
The court's ruling is the latest development in the ongoing political crisis in Ecuador. Last week, Moreno declared a state of emergency after protests over his economic policies erupted into violence. The protests have left at least seven people dead and hundreds more injured.
The political turmoil has also caused an economic crisis, with Ecuador's currency, the U.S. dollar, losing more than 30 percent of its value since Moreno took office.
The court's ruling is the first step in a lengthy and potentially contentious process, as the opposition must now gather enough votes in Congress to impeach Moreno.
The opposition is confident it has enough votes to oust Moreno, but the president's allies are expected to put up a fight.
The political crisis in Ecuador is far from over, and the court's ruling could ultimately prove to be just the beginning of a long and turbulent road to a potential impeachment.