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.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Judge fired as Ecuador faces political meltdown


March 28, 2007

QUITO, Ecuador: Ecuador's highest electoral court on Wednesday fired a judge who tried to return half the country's legislators to their posts as a political crisis over the rewriting of the country's constitution deepened.

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal earlier this month fired 57 of Congress' 100 lawmakers, accusing them of interfering with a national referendum on the need for an assembly to write a new constitution.

Leftist President Rafeal Correa, who has repeatedly clashed with Congress, on Wednesday told 2,000 supporters that opposition "political mafias" were trying to block the referendum.

He has sought the new charter to limit the power of traditional parties, which he blames for the nation's corruption and political instability. He is Ecuador's eight president in the last decade.

Some gathered to hear him speak burned giant fake rats with the word "Congress" scrawled across them.

Supreme Electoral Tribunal President Jorge Acosta told reporters outside the court that Juan Ramirez, a judge from Guayas province, was fired because he "acted illegally" by issuing an injunction blocking the lawmakers' firing. Acosta said Ramirez had no authority even to consider the case.

Correa told the crowd that the Ramirez' injunction was "illegitimate."

"We all know that those 57 lawmakers were correctly punished," he said.

Two weeks ago, the ousted lawmakers sought an injunction from a different provincial judge, but their request was denied and a mob of violent protesters attacked them at the court.

Congress approved the referendum proposal last month with the condition that the assembly would not be able to close the legislature. But the election tribunal approved Correa's request that the assembly have unlimited powers, setting off a constitutional crisis.

Most of the fired congressmen have been replaced by alternate lawmakers. But congressional president Jorge Cevallos called off the session Wednesday, and said he would respect Ramirez's injunction.

Cevallos' announcement prompted some lawmakers to climb on top of their desks, shouting in protest against the injunction.

Correa, who took office Jan. 15, says he will not respect any decision by Congress or the courts to block the referendum, which is scheduled for April 15.

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