QUITO – Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno signed a decree on Wednesday naming a member of his Cabinet as acting vice president in the absence of Jorge Glas, who was jailed pending a possible trial on corruption charges.
Maria Alejandra Vicuña, currently minister of Housing and Urban Development, was chosen to perform the duties of the vice president, presidential chief of staff Eduardo Mangas said.
The executive order was published following a meeting of Moreno with government lawyers.
“A person who is incarcerated cannot fulfill the function of vice president. Based on that, I have asked the team of attorneys assigned to the president’s office to help me make a decision,” Moreno said earlier Wednesday.
Glas entered a Quito prison on Monday after Ecuador’s top court accepted a request from the Attorney General’s Office that the vice president be placed in preventive detention pending a possible indictment.
The vice president had already seen his assets frozen and was barred from leaving the country.
The court order also applied to Glas’ uncle Ricardo Rivera, who had been under house arrest in connection with the investigation of bribes paid by Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht to obtain public works contracts.
Moreno relieved Glas of his duties in August after the vice president criticized the head of state’s policies.
Glas, who also served as vice president under President Rafael Correa, accused Moreno of seeking to undo the legacy of his predecessor’s 2007-2017 administration.
In the hours prior to Monday’s court ruling, Glas ridiculed the idea that he was a flight risk and he challenged prosecutors to reveal the evidence against him.
“Don’t worry, you don’t have to look for me, I’m where I always am. I’m not going to run. Innocent people never flee,” Glas wrote on Twitter. “I publically ask that the AG Office show the country the evidence it has against me.”
The vice president cited opinions from lawyers and judges – including political adversaries – that the request for preventive detention in his case was a “judicial aberration.”