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.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Tensions flare in Ecuador as Correa backers protest

January 22, 2007

From SignOnSanDiego

QUITO – Supporters of Ecuador's President Rafael Correa shut down the attorney general's office Monday in protest over the new top prosecutor named by Congress, underscoring a growing rift between the newly elected leftist and Congress.

Lawmakers in Congress, where Correa has little backing, last week named Francisco Cucalon, a lawyer close to Correa's former election rival, Alvaro Noboa, as the country's new attorney general for a six-year term.

Correa, a U.S.-trained economist who won November's election by a wide margin over banana mogul Noboa, calls the appointment unconstitutional and argues Congress should pick an attorney general from a list of candidates approved by an independent council of judges.

Correa and Interior Minister Gustavo Larrea have threatened to remove the new prosecutor by force if Congress bypasses the approved short list.

Cucalon's appointment immediately sparked protests by government sympathizers in the capital Quito and rekindled political tensions in the world's top banana exporter, where three presidents have been toppled by popular turmoil in a decade.

Chanting and waving banners, dozens of demonstrators blocked the entrance to the attorney general's building Monday prompting officials to shut it down. Protesters in the port city of Guayaquil also closed the attorney general's office there.

Correa, a left-wing ally of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, has promised to introduce sweeping reforms to curtail the influence of traditional political parties whom many Ecuadoreans blame for their poor country's instability.

“The public security forces were not needed, the protests show the people's discontent with the appointment... but we have still not ruled out using public forces,” Larrea told a local television station.

Many lawmakers oppose Correa's plans to rewrite the constitution through a popular assembly aimed at bypassing political parties who have used Congress to ensure allies are appointed to key court positions.

Opposition lawmakers say the constitution allows them to name a new attorney general and the new top prosecutor has said he will not resign.

Ecuador has been without an appointed attorney general since February 2005 when the government of then president Lucio Gutierrez faced a political crisis that forced him from office months later. Critics accused Gutierrez of meddling with the independence of the supreme court.

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