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, April 11, 2007

Ecuador Congress convenes, boosting leftist Correa

QUITO, April 10 (Reuters) - Ecuador's Congress held a session on Tuesday with substitute legislators, a victory for President Rafael Correa who has crossed swords with elected lawmakers over an upcoming referendum that could sap the legislature's powers.

Ecuadoreans are expected to vote overwhelmingly on Sunday for the leftist leader's proposal to rewrite the constitution and possibly slash the judicial and political influence of Congress, widely perceived as corrupt.

A majority of congressmen, fearing the loss of their powers, tried to block Correa's referendum. The electoral court retaliated on March 7 by firing 57 of the 100 lawmakers, saying substitutes from the same party should take their place.

This ruling sparked a month-long political battle with lawmakers trying to fight their way into the chamber and protesting that they had been sacked illegally.

But the popular Correa, who has vowed to rework the highly volatile Andean state's national debt and renegotiate oil deals, seems to have the upper hand as the substitutes are seated in Congress.

"My decision to hold a session ... is meant to prevent a constitutional collapse," said Jorge Cevallos, president of the Congress, which was ringed by hundreds of riot police.

A poll on Sunday showed 63 percent of Ecuadoreans support the new assembly. Correa, a U.S.-educated economist and Ecuador's eighth president in a decade, has said he will quit if he does not win the referendum.

The fired lawmakers protested Congress's decision to convene by holding an alternative session in a ritzy hotel in north Quito.
"Our fight is not over yet, we will continue," said fired lawmaker Alfredo Serrano.

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