The people of Ecuador are rising up to refound their country as a pluri-national homeland for all. This inspiring movement, with Ecuador's indigenous peoples at its heart, is part of the revolution spreading across the Americas, laying the groundwork for a new, fairer, world. Ecuador Rising aims to bring news and analysis of events unfolding in Ecuador to english speakers.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Correa backers break into Ecuador's election court

Tue Jan 23, 2007

By Alonso Soto

QUITO (Reuters) - Supporters of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa on Tuesday broke into the country's election court to pressure officials to approve his request for a referendum on whether to rewrite the constitution.

Correa, a left-wing ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, was elected in November promising sweeping reforms to curtail the influence of traditional parties which many Ecuadoreans blame for the Andean nation's political turmoil.

The court protests and earlier demonstrations at the attorney general's office underscore growing political tensions between Correa and Congress in a country where lawmakers have helped topple three elected presidents in the last decade.

More than three-quarters of Ecuadoreans support Correa's call for a popular assembly on rewriting the constitution, a Cedatos Gallup poll showed this week.

The charismatic leader has an approval rating of 73 percent while Congress has only 13 percent, according to another Cedatos poll released at the weekend.

Dozens of protesters waving the lime green flags of Correa's political movement climbed over walls and forced their way into the election court building chanting "Say 'yes' to the Assembly" before they were controlled by police.

Supporters of the left-leaning president believe that if the court sends the proposal to Congress, opposition lawmakers would try to water down Correa's plan for a vote on whether to all a popular assembly to rewrite the constitution.

International investors are worried over heightened political turmoil rekindled by Correa's aggressive drive to overhaul his country's political system.

"This highly confrontational strategy carries the risk of eroding even further the institutional backbone of the country," wrote Alberto Ramos, economist with Goldman Sachs.

Opposition political parties are opposed to Correa's ideas for constitutional reform because they believe he will seek to bypass them and undermine their authority. Correa, a U.S.-trained economist, says the reforms are needed to curb party influence in the courts and other institutions.

In separate turmoil, a decision by lawmakers last week to appoint an attorney general close to Correa's former election rival, Alvaro Noboa, sparked street protests by government supporters to demand his removal.

In a sign of support to protesters, the government issued a statement that the demonstrations were a result "of the people being weary with the political games of Congress."

Ecuador's chief police commander also resigned on Tuesday as the new government attempted to reform the police, hit by corruption scandals.

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