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Monday, September 29, 2008

New Ecuador constitution approved in national referendum
Kiely Lewandowski at 12:09 PM ET

[JURIST] In a national referendum on Sunday, Ecuadorean voters overwhelmingly approved a new constitution which consolidates and significantly broadens the powers held by leftist President Rafael Correa [official website, in Spanish; BBC profile]. The new constitution [text, in Spanish] gives the president the power to remove Congress in the middle of a four-year term, to control monetary policy, and to seek re-election for an additional term. The constitution also includes plans to tighten control of Ecuador's vital mining and oil industries. President Correa called the vote a 'historic victory,' commenting [Reuters report; official statement, in Spanish], "Today, Ecuador has decided on a new nation, the old structures are defeated." AP has more. BBC has additional coverage.

The special assembly charged with rewriting the constitution provisionally approved the document in July [JURIST report]. The success of Correa's referendum fulfills Correa's pledge to rewrite the country's constitution [JURIST report] after his leftist coalition's landslide victory [JURIST report] in October 2007. Correa's Alianza PAIS party [official website, in Spanish] has a majority in the Constituent Assembly. Critics continue to fear the 444-article constitution gives the president too much control over the economy and the judiciary, which would allow Correa to follow the example set by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez [BBC profile] in using the reform to further expand his powers.

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