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.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Pte. Correa claims “overwhelming” referendum victory

Mercopress, 28 September, 2008

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa claimed on Sunday evening a "historic victory" in a referendum to give him new powers after exit polls said he easily won with 63 to 66% of the vote. Speaking from Guayaquil, an opposition stronghold, a jubilant Mr Correa said his constitutional reform proposals had been approved across the country.
"The new constitution has won overwhelmingly even here" he told cheering supporters.

An exit poll by Cedatos-Gallup said 66% of voters had backed the new constitution that gives Mr Correa more power to regulate the economy. An unofficial quick count by the independent group Citizen’s Participation showed 63% approval with 29% voting “no” while 7% voted “null” and 1% turned in blank votes.

Correa said his proposed social reforms will benefit the hardworking majority and diminish the power of a political class he says is responsible for making Ecuador one of the region's most corrupt countries. Ecuador has 14 million population mostly indigenous and peasants.

Critics say Mr Correa, a former Roman Catholic missionary and US educated economist is amassing too much control in the country and is frightening investors with threats to pay less debt and put closer scrutiny on foreign oil and mine companies.

Like other fellow South American presidents Correa wants a rewritten constitution to regulate the economy and increase spending on health and education. The once Catholic missionary, who taught in a Quechua Indian village, is popular with Ecuador's majority poor for sharing oil income via handouts and credits to small businesses.

Earlier this month Correa said the referendum was the "last opportunity for peaceful change in Ecuador", in reference to the crisis in global capital markets.

The new constitution would also close down all foreign military bases in the country, forcing the US to pull out its regional anti-drug operations, which have run for nearly 10 years from an air base in the port city of Manta.

Branded as "hyper-presidentialist" by the conservative opposition, the new constitution would allow the president to run for two consecutive, four-year terms, and dissolve congress and call early elections.

But supporters say the constitution's 444 new articles to expand the president's powers are necessary to end political instability in a country that, in the last 10 years, has removed three presidents from office before their terms were finished.

Correa, 45, has already announced his intention to run for re-election in February 2009, if the new charter is approved.

Jaime Nebot, the leader of the opposition Social Christian party and the mayor of Guayaquil, has criticized the constitutional changes, which he says would create a centralized form of government that would threaten private property.

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