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, February 02, 2007

Ecuadorean government denies it has plans to dissolve Congress

February 1, 2007, IHT

QUITO, Ecuador: Ecuador's new leftist government said on Thursday that it does not plan to dissolve Congress, despite a bitter fight over a push to overhaul the country's charter that led protesters to storm the capitol this week.

Armed with clubs and rocks, thousands of supporters of President Rafael Correa invaded the congressional building Tuesday to demand that lawmakers call a March 18 referendum on whether the constitution should be rewritten, forcing the session to be suspended. Police dispersed the protests after firing tear gas on the crowd.

Correa says the referendum is necessary to limit the power of Ecuador's traditional parties, which he blames for the country's problems. Opposition lawmakers, meanwhile, have raised fears that a constitutional assembly with unlimited powers, as Correa advocates, might move to close the legislature.

On Thursday, Interior Minister Gustavo Larrea said Thursday that Correa has "no intention" of shutting Congress over the dispute.

"The government guarantees that Congress will function," Larrea said. "To be clear, the executive branch has no intention of dissolving Congress."

Larrea met with congressional head Jorge Cevallos late Wednesday in an attempt to smooth over tensions, which have been high since Correa took office Jan. 15.

During his election campaign Correa called Congress a "sewer" of corruption. Cevallos has accused him of acting like a "dictator" by trying to impose his will on congressmen who were as legitimately elected as he was.

Ecuador's National Electoral Tribunal last week decided to send Correa's request for the referendum to Congress for review and approval. Correa contends the constitution allows him to call referendums on matters of national interest without the legislature's permission.

"This is our last opportunity for peaceful changes in this country," Correa told reporters Wednesday in the port city of Guayaquil. "I fear that if we fail in this peaceful change, the next change will come with great violence."

A U.S.-trained economist, he has said his government hopes to win at least 70 percent of seats in a constitutional assembly.

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