Ecuador political tension escalates

President fires army chief over helicopter crash that killed the defence minister.

Clashes between the president's supporters andthe police are continuing in Quito [AFP]
Clashes between the president's supporters andthe police are continuing in Quito [AFP]
Pablo Teran, a resident of Quito, says he wants constitutional reform.
He says he is tired if the old power structure that has always benefited the rich and that has left the poor at the end of any political agenda.
“We want a change in this country and Correa is the one that will bring it about,” Teran says. “We want the congress out. They are useless.”
Army chief sacked
In another development, Correa fired the country’s army chief on Friday after blaming him in part for the helicopter crash that killed Guadalupe Larriva, the defence minister, last week.
Ricardo Patino, the economy minister, who is briefly acting as defence minister, said a military report unveiled a series of mistakes with the planning, operation and security of the helicopters’ flight in which Larriva, her teenage daughter and five military officers died.
The minister said Pedro Machado, the army chief, was responsible for Larriva’s security.
The Ecuadorean military has played a part in ousting three presidents in the last decade by removing its support for the leaders amid growing street protests.
But the institution remains widely popular for its work in building roads and repairing bridges across the poor nation.
Congress stormed
On Tuesday, thousands of Correa’s supporters stormed a session of congress, accusing politicians of blocking the president’s much awaited reforms, Al Jazeera’s correspondent said.
Deputies were discussing the president’s plan to get a popular left-winger rewrite the constitution when the protesters invaded the building.
Correa has accused congress of failing the people and only acting in the interests of the business elite, an attack widely approved by the vast majority in this country.
Since his first day in the job, Correa has been trying to stick to his campaign promises.
Correa wants the consitutional assembly to be made up of regional and national representatives.
They would also be able to make laws bypassing congress.
Radical measures
For many in the opposition, it’s an unconstitutional move and a copy of the radical measures implemented in Bolivia and Venezuela.
“Correa made it to power promising the people he would change the country,” says Guillermo Iniguez, an analyst.
“Congress is only a part of those changes. Correa cannot disappoint his voters or they will bring him down as they did others.”
But Ecuador is a country were passions for those in power fade fast. In the last 10 years there have been eight presidents – and many have lasted only months in power.
For now Correa has nothing but support, and the will of his followers to make his promises happen.
Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies


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