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, November 21, 2007

Ecuador assembly to start reform debates Nov. 29

QUITO, Nov 19 (Reuters) - An Ecuadorean court said on Monday a government-controlled assembly will start to review Ecuador's constitution on Nov. 29, allowing President Rafael Correa to press on with his leftist agenda.

Correa, a former economy minister, wants the assembly to shut down the opposition-dominated Congress, call early presidential elections and curb the powers of traditional political parties that many Ecuadoreans blame for chronic instability.

The president's Alianza Pais party won a solid majority of the assembly's 130-seats, according to official results from a vote at the end of September.

"We will officially give the credentials to assembly members today and the assembly will have to be established on Nov. 29 in accordance the body's statute," Electoral Court judge Andres Leon said.

The process to propose changes to the constitution will last six months.

The leftist president has spooked foreign investors with his drive to increase state control over the key oil industry and has debt-holders on the edge with pledges to restructure the country's $10.34 billion foreign debt.

But the U.S.-educated economist remains highly popular among Ecuadoreans with his call for deep reforms.

Constitutional changes approved by the assembly must be ratified in a referendum next year. The government block is discussing if the assembly will take over Congress powers while it debates a draft constitution.

Correa's Alianza Pais, a new party looking to push through his far-reaching socialist proposals, has 80 seats while the Patriotic Society party of toppled President Lucio Gutierrez has 18 seats and vows to counter Correa in the assembly.

The PRIAN party, led by Correa's former presidential rival and businessman Alvaro Noboa, has eight seats. Noboa, a banana mogul and the country's wealthiest man, says he fears Correa's reforms will damage the economy and scare off investment.

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