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 07, 2007

Ecuadorean lawmakers fire head of highest electoral court

IHT, March 6, 2007.

QUITO, Ecuador: Ecuador's Congress has fired the head of the highest electoral court in an effort to block a nationwide referendum on whether to rewrite the constitution — a move likely to worsen already sour relations between lawmakers and the new leftist president.

The 100-member Congress, which President Rafael Correa has called "a sewer of corruption," voted 52-21 on Tuesday to dismiss the seven-seat tribunal president, Jorge Acosta, who provided the swing vote when the body accepted Correa's referendum plan last week.

Lawmakers also approved measures to block the US$16 million (€12.2 million) in funding that Correa's government gave the court last week to hold the referendum.

Correa, who took office Jan. 15, says the assembly is necessary to limit the power of Ecuador's political parties, which he blames for the poverty wracked nation's problems.

Congress approved the April 15 referendum last month, but stipulated that the 130-member assembly would not have the power to dismiss lawmakers or officials elected last year.

Correa later said the assembly will have the power to dismiss not only lawmakers but judges and even the president himself.

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal accepted Correa's version of the referendum last week, prompting lawmakers to call the vote unconstitutional and dismiss Acosta.

"They want cheat the Ecuadorean people out of their referendum," Acosta told Radio Quito, adding lawmakers do not have the legal power to dismiss a member of the electoral court.

On Monday night, lawmakers presented a case to the Constitutional Tribunal, claiming that the referendum is unconstitutional.

Correa has rejected accusations of authoritarianism amid his push for a new constitution and says his reforms aim to make elected officials more accountable.

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