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, October 01, 2007

Ecuador's leftist president predicts victory in election of constitutional assembly

Via, 1 October, 2007

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) - Ecuador's leftist president claimed victory in Sunday's election of an assembly to write a new constitution - before the release of official results - as he seeks a socialist model to bring stability to an impoverished nation.

A quick count by a local citizens' group at thousands of polls indicated strong support for the president's party. But no official results were released to support President Rafael Correa's initial claim of triumph, and complete results are expected to take at least 20 days.

Correa seeks a 66-seat majority to firmly control the 130-seat assembly's agenda. The sampling showed Correa's party on course to win 15 out of 24 assembly seats reserved for national representatives.

The count by Participacion Ciudadana was conducted at 6,129 of the country's 37,656 voting centers. The sampling was equivalent to 82 percent of the votes registered at the centers.

“We accept this triumph with great humility and total responsibility. We know we cannot fail,” said Correa, citing projections of the vote count without elaborating.

His push for a new charter follows in the footsteps of socialist leaders Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia.

Opposition candidate Gilmar Gutierrez, brother of ousted President Lucio Gutierrez, said his party would wait for word from electoral officials. His party was trailing Correa's with 2 of the 24 national seats, according to the early sampling.

“We're going to wait the official results of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal as we said we would,” Gutierrez told Ecuavisa television.

Correa's opponents accuse him of seeking too much power as president and note he proposes letting presidents serve two consecutive four-year terms instead of the one allowed now.

Correa denies he plans to maintain himself in power indefinitely, and sought on Sunday to ease concerns that he would concentrate power in the presidency to impose a leftist agenda.

He said his supporters would hold talks with any party interested in achieving a consensus on reforms.

“No one is seeking totalitarian projects, even worse, foreign projects,” he said, referring to concerns that he is trying to emulate the leftist presidents of Venezuela and Bolivia.

Voting was peaceful in most of the country, but angry voters in a village in the Esmeraldas province on Ecuador's coast burned two ballot boxes, forcing suspension of voting there, officials said.

Correa, who took office in January, says the assembly will pave the way for socialism, but he has not detailed his reforms.

The 44-year-old former economy minister says the assembly is necessary to eliminate the power of traditional political parties he blames for the country's problems.

He is expected to call for the closing Congress and replacing it with a parliamentary commission until a legislature is elected under a new charter.

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