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.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Ecuador's Correa easily wins referendum: exit poll

By Alonso Soto

April 15, QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa easily won a referendum on Sunday that could enable him to wrest control from a Congress reviled as corrupt in the politically unstable country, an exit poll showed.

Correa, a leftist and friend of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, won 78 percent of the vote to set up an assembly to rewrite the constitution, according to the Cedatos-Gallup exit poll of 40,000 voters nationwide.

Correa, who has maintained huge popularity since taking office in January by confronting traditional political elites, wants the new body to strip powers from a Congress seen as having vested interests in state firms and the judiciary.

Only 12 percent voted against the assembly and the remaining ballots were void or left blank, according to the poll, which had a margin of error of 2 percentage points.

Speaking before the survey's results, a beaming Correa predicted he would win.

"This is a victory for the people, for democracy and for our country," he said as hundreds of screaming supporters crowded around him and his armed bodyguards.

Correa, who has spooked foreign investors with threats to stop making debt payments, staked his political career on the vote, pledging to resign if he failed to win emphatically.

"The thought of the assembly gives me hope for my children and grandchildren," said Nelly Deprocel, 65, voting in the capital Quito as did millions of other Ecuadoreans from the Andes mountains to the Amazon rain forest. "I want change."

Ecuador, the world's top banana exporter, has had eight presidents in a decade, three of them toppled in popular and congressional unrest.

Correa is adopting a tactic similar to that used by other leftist presidents in the region, Chavez and Bolivian leader Evo Morales, who also called referendums soon after taking office seeking to emasculate traditional parties.

At an event in Venezuela with Morales at his side, nodding in agreement, Chavez decried Ecuador's "terrible instability," declaring: "We all have to get behind a victory for Correa."

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