(Bloomberg) -- Ecuador President Guillermo Lasso insisted he was innocent of a graft charge leveled by the opposition, calling the accusations and a move to impeach him a power grab.

“The impeachment is a desperate, untimely and violent attempt” to take power and attack democratic stability, Lasso said in a pre-recorded speech to the nation Thursday night, hours before a congressional committee takes up an impeachment case against him.

The embattled 67-year-old president faces removal from office less than two years into his term after the Constitutional Court on Wednesday voted to send a case against him to congress. 

The court stripped the accusations leveled against him down to a review of a controversial contract at state oil shipping firm FLOPEC. 

“They are accusing me because of a FLOPEC contract signed in 2018,” said Lasso, who took office in 2021. “I’m being accused of allegedly abusing public funds to my own benefit before I became president.”

A key congressional committee is scheduled to meet Friday at 9:30 a.m. local time to review the court’s decision and begin the next leg of the procedure. It’s expected to take at least six weeks before the lawmakers can vote. A two-thirds majority is needed to replace him with Vice President Alfredo Borrero.

The nation’s dollar notes maturing in 2030 were the worst-performing in emerging markets on Thursday, according to data compiled from a Bloomberg index. The debt slumped by more than 2 cents to around 46 cents on the dollar.

Lasso’s opponents, who control congress, claim he has allowed corruption to fester in his administration. A prior attempt to remove him in June 2022 fell shy of the 92-vote minimum.

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