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 25, 2007

Ecuador's leftist president threatens to detain reinstated lawmakers

IHT, April 24, 2007

QUITO, Ecuador: Scorning the authority of his nation's highest court, Ecuador's leftist president sent police Tuesday to block lawmakers opposed to his overwhelmingly popular constitutional reform.

The Constitutional Tribunal on Monday reinstated 51 congressmen who were ousted last month for allegedly interfering with a referendum on the politically unstable nation's need for a new charter. The tribunal's rulings cannot be appealed, but President Rafael Correa said the decision was a "flagrant" violation of Ecuador's legal procedures.

Correa warned that if the dismissed lawmakers try to enter Congress "using force and disturbing public order, it will be necessary to send them to prison."

Some 300 police were stationed outside Congress to keep the reinstated legislators from entering. Dozens of demonstrators also gathered to keep the lawmakers from returning, and the ousted lawmakers were meeting in a Quito hotel to decide what to do.

One of the opposition congressmen, Alfredo Serrano, said they would not try to enter Congress Tuesday out of fear for their security.

Fed up with political corruption and incompetence, many Ecuadoreans share Correa's view that the current political structure is designed to benefit parties rather than people.

Polls show Correa, who took office Jan. 15, has nearly 70 percent support, but his party didn't field candidates for Congress. His referendum on writing a new constitution to reduce the parties' power was approved by 82 percent of voters.

Correa's position also is supported by Ecuador's top electoral court, which fired the lawmakers in March and says that it — not the constitutional tribunal — has the final say on electoral matters.

"It is not a matter of disrespecting their decision but they should respect ... the constitution and the laws," said the electoral court's president, Jorge Acosta. "Just because they are the highest constitutional authority does not mean they can disregard the mandates of the constitution and the law."

Acosta warned that the six judges on the nine-member tribunal who voted in favor of reinstating the dismissed congressmen could face criminal charges for abuse of authority.

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