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 21, 2007

Ecuador Congress replaces lawmakers, convenes

By Alexandra Valencia
QUITO, March 20 (Reuters) - Ecuador's Congress replaced fired lawmakers and convened on Tuesday in an apparent victory for President Rafael Correa over opposition legislators resisting his plans to curb their influence.
Correa, a left-winger elected in November, has been locked in a power struggle with lawmakers since March 7, when a court sacked 57 of them from the 100-member chamber for obstructing his plans for a referendum on rewriting the constitution.
The fired lawmakers had said they would seek to take their seats in the building, which was ringed by hundreds of police wielding batons to prevent a repeat of last week's clashes when opposition members tried to force their way inside.
But Congress President Jorge Cevallos on Tuesday swore in 21 substitutes and allowed the legislature to hold a session without the fired lawmakers.
"We will obey the will of the people," substitute lawmaker Cesar Alonso said. Congress needs at least 51 lawmakers to hold a session and 55 were present.
Correa was monitoring developments and "hopes that Congress will start working in line with the people's demands," a government spokeswoman said.
Elected in November, Correa is popular for promising to sweep away the influence of traditional political parties whom many Ecuadoreans blame for the instability that has ousted three presidents in the last decade. He wants an April 15 vote on holding a popular assembly to rewrite the constitution.
With his strongest opponents now out of Congress, Correa should be able to push ahead with his political proposals and key economic reforms, experts said.
"This is an evident victory for Correa... the opposition has lost a lot of power," said Simon Pachano, analyst with Ecuador's branch of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences. "The government also probably has struck a deal with the substitutes."
Correas opponents fear the U.S.-trained economist and former finance minister will seek to rewrite the constitution to strengthen presidential powers as his left-wing ally, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, did after his 1998 election.
Wall Street has been monitoring Ecuador's political developments closely after Correa promised to use his mandate to restructure bonds and rewrite foreign oil contracts in South America's fifth-largest crude producer.

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