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.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Facing dissolution, Ecuador congress seeks help

By Alonso Soto

QUITO, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Ecuadorean lawmakers on Thursday appealed to the international community for help blocking what they called an unconstitutional plan by President Rafael Correa to disband congress through his majority in a new assembly.

Correa's party scored a crushing win in Sunday's vote for a 130-member assembly the leftist president says should dissolve an unpopular congress, call for early elections and curtail the powers of political elites by rewriting the constitution.

Analysts said the move illustrated how a fragmented opposition with few assembly seats will struggle to block Correa pushing through proposals in the poor Andean country, where instability has ousted three presidents in a decade.

"Our objective here is to prevent a violation of Ecuador's constitution," said Congress President Jorge Cevallos after lawmakers met behind closed doors to discuss strategy.

He said lawmakers would seek support from Washington-based Organization of American States and the European Union.

Correa has the opposition fretting over his proposed anti-establishment reforms that have made him popular among Ecuadoreans who blame traditional political parties for widespread poverty and political instability.

The former economy minister and ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has also worried Wall Street with his pledges to tighten state control over the economy.

"The opposition is agonizing," said Patricia de la Torre, a political analyst at Quito's Catholic University. "They are so weak now that its very unlikely they can stand up to Correa and the popular support he has amassed."

Lawmakers insist congress cannot be dissolved because any constitutional reforms approved by the new assembly during a six-month debate must be ratified in a referendum.

Opposition leader and toppled president Lucio Gutierrez, who accuses Correa of seeking dictatorial powers through the assembly, acknowledged his party can do little even if it has the second largest number of assembly posts.

Official tallies are still to be completed. But Correa's Alianza Pais party says it may have secured as many as 80 seats -- far more than the 66 controlling majority -- whereas Gutierrez said his PSP party had around 17 assembly posts.

"There is not much we can do, even if we scream, stomp our feet or stand on our heads, they only have to raise their hands to get the 70 votes needed to approve constitutional changes," Gutierrez told Reuters. "We will just try as much as we can."

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