Ecuador legislature unseats leader close to President Guillermo Lasso

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FILE PHOTO: Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso sits for an interview, in Quito
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By Alexandra Valencia

QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuador's National Assembly late on Tuesday voted to remove its head, Guadalupe Llori, a close ally of President Guillermo Lasso, accusing her of failing to perform her duties and appointing one of her deputies in her stead.

The move was supported by 81 of the 82 legislators present and was backed by the opposition, which holds a majority in the assembly of 137 legislators.

The decision will likely come as a further blow to Lasso, who has faced vehement opposition in the assembly to his investment and security proposals, with the president threatening to bypass the legislature with decrees and other tools at his disposal.

As well as lawmaker opposition, Lasso's presidency has been plagued by high levels of violence and bloody prison riots which have killed hundreds of inmates.

Several political parties sought to unseat Llori - a member of the indigenous Pachakutik party - in recent weeks, arguing that she had blocked appeals against her leadership and failed to call pending legislative sessions.

Llori had requested protective measures from the judiciary to avoid being unseated, but judges deferred the decision to legislators.

Llori did not attend the session to exercise her right to defense. Her removal as head of the assembly does not affect her status as member.

She could not immediately be contacted for comment.

Independent lawmaker Virgilio Saquicela, who was serving as a vice president of the body, was declared the new leader by lawmakers.

Saquicela invites Lasso to "seek solutions to insecurity, to seek laws that benefit the country, (and) to sit down with all sectors to find ways to solve Ecuador's serious problems," the assembly said in a statement late on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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