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Ecuador: Landslide victory for Correa and new political model

Sunday, April 15th 2007 - 21:00 UTC
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Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa achieved a solid political victory following the landslide support in Sunday's referendum to call a constitutional assembly with full powers to review the chart and set the foundations for a “new model” of country.

From the port city of Guayaquil Correa described as "crushing" YES victory but cautioned it was not the victory of a government or of a man, â€Ã‚¦"it was a victory for the motherland, a victory for the future, what was at stake was the motherland and the future". According to the current constitution the YES vote must have the absolute majority, which apparently was achieved according to interviews at the exit of polling booths, which anyhow must be confirmed in the coming days by the Electoral Tribunal. A poll from Cedato-Gallup and released by one of the country's main radio stations, 78.1% of voters supported the Correa initiative and 11.5% voted against with 7% and 3.3% non validated or annulled. Ecuador has 9.1 million voters registered but 6.2 million were expected to vote and thus President Correa would need the support of at least 3.2 million, which apparently he achieved. Correa has been in office for three months after winning elections as an independent and promising so "wipe out" all those institutions, obsolete or not, that have condemned the majority of Ecuadorians to poverty and misery. "It's a victory for the Ecuadorian people, for democracy and for our right to express our ideas with the ballot", said Correa. However, the opposition accuses Correa of being authoritarian and argues the constitutional assembly would by-pass the current Congress with which the president has been in constant dispute since he took office. They also claim he's trying to accumulate increased power and is following on the steps of Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez and his controversial reforms. Former Ecuador president Oswaldo Hurtado said of the referendum: "It's not a project for a better democracy. It's a project to accumulate power. All dictators always have had constitutions made to fit them". Correa has not spelt out exactly what he wants from a new constitution but has indicated that Congress, controlled by traditional political parties, should not appoint judges and electoral officials. The Assembly would be elected within three months and have six months to draft the constitution. The document would then be put to a second referendum. Correa has promised the new constitution will "de-politicize" the courts, control authorities, and decentralizes the state. He also anticipated that if the result was a NO vote he would quit and "go home". The debate running to the referendum had turned personal with critics of President Correa making accusations of drug-running in his family. Mr Correa admitted his father was arrested for carrying drugs into the US 40 years ago. Although Ecuador recovered democracy in the late seventies it has become a highly politically unstable country with eight presidents in the last ten years.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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