By Laura Gamba
BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) - Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso was spared from being removed from office by Congress.
The opposition tried to oust Lasso after he announced that his government would no longer negotiate with indigenous leader Leonidas Iza to end more than two weeks of violent protests.
The opposition failed to reach the 92 votes needed Tuesday to remove the conservative leader, whom they accused of being the cause of the serious upheaval that is shaking the country.
"We defended democracy and now we must recover peace. In spite of the coup attempts, today the country's institutionality prevailed," Lasso wrote on Twitter after the vote.
Protests in Ecuador have resulted in the deaths of at least eight people and led to food and medicine shortages.
Demonstrators have confronted police and soldiers with explosives and weapons, while riot police have tried to stop protesters by using tear gas.
Indigenous groups are asking Lasso to lower gasoline costs and agricultural goods, reverse the privatization of public services and to stop additional oil and mining development, among other concessions.
Lasso said that the murder of a soldier in violent protests led his government to suspend talks with the indigenous community. He also announced that the government will not talk with the president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), Leonidas Iza.
"We will not negotiate with those who hold Ecuador hostage," Lasso said in an address to the nation Tuesday, accusing Iza of defending his interests and not those of indigenous people.
Iza accused the government of "authoritarianism" and said measures will continue “until they are heard."