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, March 14, 2007

Ecuador Congress Ends Session After Lawmakers Banned

By Alex Kennedy

March 13 (Bloomberg) -- Ecuador's congress canceled its session today after riot police used tear gas to keep suspended lawmakers from entering the capitol building.

Jorge Cevallos, the legislature's president, said he canceled the meeting because too few congressmen attended. The country's top constitutional court today rejected a request by Cavellos to rule on the legality of the suspension last week of 57 opposition lawmakers by the electoral court.

``This escalating political confrontation carries the risk of further erosion to the institutional backbone of the country,'' Alberto Ramos, a senior economist with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in New York, said in a note to clients.

The court's decision will probably lead to the appointment of the suspended congressmen's lesser-known substitutes, a move that should strengthen President Rafael Correa, Ramos said.

Police used shields and tear gas to keep a group of suspended congressmen out of congress. Officers allowed about eight of the deputies into the building to protect them from Correa supporters, Luis Cueva, head of the congressional police force, said on Ecuavisa.

Ecuador's 100-member congress on March 6 voted to replace Supreme Electoral Tribunal President Jorge Acosta after the court backed Correa's plan to hold a referendum on whether to rewrite the constitution. The court on March 7 ruled the vote unconstitutional and ordered the suspension of lawmakers who voted for it.

``If not toned down soon, the heated political rhetoric and confrontation could start to erode the fundamentals of the country,'' Ramos said. ``At that stage, what has been so far disconcerting rhetoric and questionable willingness to stay current on external debt obligations could easily mutate into genuine capacity to pay issues.''

Correa said yesterday his government won't pay $40 million in interest it owes the central bank, in a bid to free up more funds for health programs. The government, which owes the central bank $1.2 billion, last week backed off threats to default on $10 billion of foreign debt when Finance Minister Ricardo Patino said the government will probably make an interest payment in May.

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