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.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Ecuador: ex-leader throws support behind President-elect Correa's constitution reform push

Published: January 11, 2007

QUITO, Ecuador: Former President Lucio Gutierrez on Thursday threw his party's support behind an effort by President-elect Rafael Correa to rewrite the constitution, a move that could avoid a dangerous standoff between Congress and Correa.

Gutierrez told reporters that his Patriotic Society party, whose 24 lawmakers had been part of a 70-member bloc in the 100-seat Congress opposed to the initiative, would now "push immediately for a national constituent assembly."

The switch in Gutierrez's position gives Correa a majority in Congress on the issue of the assembly.

Congress has dismissed the last three elected presidents in this small Andean nation after massive street protests demanding their ousters, violating constitutional procedures in the process.

Correa has campaigned around the country in recent weeks encouraging street protests against lawmakers and said he would hold a referendum on whether to rewrite Ecuador's charter without congressional approval — in violation of the constitution.

Gutierrez said his party's decision to support Correa was not "a change of discourse," but rather a way to offer the new president the means to convoke a national referendum "without violating the constitution."

Gutierrez, who was forced from the presidency in April 2005 by lawmakers following massive protests, added: "We want to avoid unnecessary violence in the country."

Correa, then a university professor, participated in the street protests against Gutierrez.

Gutierrez said his party's representative on the seven-member Supreme Electoral Tribunal would offer what could be the swing vote to ratify and organize the referendum.


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