Ecuadorians vote to reform the Constitution amid deep political crisis

Leftist President Rafael Correa reasserted that the US Dollar will keep being the legal currency in the South American nation.

Ecuadorians will go to polls on Sunday to vote on a referendum to decide whether they want to reform the country’s Constitution or not. According to polls, the initiative backed by leftist President Rafael Correa will obtain a stunning victory and the South American nation will have a new Constitution by the end of the year.

Correa joined the campaign of social and political movements, and has toured some provinces to ratify the need to reform the current power structures. The Ecuadorian president multiplied his appearances on TV and radio, declaring that a favorable vote for the Constituent Assembly would lead the way to essential social and political changes.

However, Correa reasserted that the US Dollar will keep being the legal currency of the embattled Andean nation despite criticisms coming from leftist opinion leaders. The dollarization of Ecuador’s economy after several financial crisis sent millions under the poverty line and led to the bankruptcy of most of its industries.

"The Assembly is going to elaborate a new Constitution", he said, adding that it would be able to make transformations and guarantee the rights to public services, such as health and education. Alianza Pais, the president's political party, is now preparing support activities for Thursday in the provincial capitals, and spokesmen from the organization said most of the Ecuadorian population knows the objective of the plebiscite.

Institutional crisis

Sunday’s vote comes as the country faces a deep institutional crisis that has confronted the President with the Congress. Gasping Ecuadorean lawmakers fled Congress on Thursday after a tear-gas canister exploded in the building in another sign of tensions.

"The government planned this," lawmaker Luis Almeida told Ecuadorean television, blaming a bodyguard of legislators loyal to Correa for the late morning tear-gas attack. Congress security officials said the canister exploded in a room next to the main chamber and that they had detained a suspect who had tried to fling it into the chamber.

Congress had restarted work on Tuesday after a bitter, month-long dispute with the president over the referendum. More than half the lawmakers were fired and fought with police trying to get back into the chamber.

Hernan Etchaleco

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Author`s name Alex Naumov