Ecuador VP Removed, Accused of Taking Kickbacks From Aide

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Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno on Monday suspended his vice president, who faces allegations that as a congresswoman she took kickbacks from a staff member.

The removal of Maria Alejandra Vicuna came after she requested an unpaid leave of absence until January so she could prepare her defense in a probe started last week by Ecuador’s chief prosecutor. She said she was doing so as not to interfere with government work.

Moreno said a top aide, Jose Briones, would occupy the vice presidency, but gave no indication for how long.

Briones is Ecuador’s third vice president since Moreno took office last year. The president’s running mate, Jorge Glas, was stripped of his duties after he was jailed and later convicted of orchestrating a plot to demand millions of dollars in bribes from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht during the leftist government of President Rafael Correa. Both he and Moreno served as Correa’s vice president.

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