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The BBC's James Reynolds in Quito
"After days of unrest and uncertainty an end to the state of emergency"
 real 56k

Thursday, 8 February, 2001, 02:44 GMT
Accord follows Ecuador fuel protests
Antonio Vargas
Antonio Vargas arrives for presidential talks
Ecuador's president has signed an accord with indigenous leaders, implementing fuel price cuts in return for an end to weeks of riots.

The government has at the same time lifted a state of emergency imposed last week in response to the violent protests which followed the doubling of the price of fuel.

Clashes have resulted in at least four deaths and dozens more injuries in the last two weeks, and the army was sent onto the streets to quell demonstrations last week.

However, an 80-strong delegation of indigenous leaders agreed to end the demonstrations after signing an agreement with President Gustavo Noboa.

BBC South America correspondent James Reynolds says it appears that the protests will indeed come to an end.

President Gustavo Noboa
Noboa initially refused talks
Mr Noboa, the nation's fourth president in as many years, has agreed to limit prices on the cooking fuels which are crucial to poor Andean families.

In the deal signed by Antonio Vargas, leader of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, the price of gas will be cut to $1.60, down from $2 per 15kg tank.

The price of other fuels will be frozen for a year, except for higher-grade (super) petrol.

It was a compromise for Indian leaders who had asked that gas be cut to $1.50, and that general fuel tariffs remain unchanged for two years.

Fuel prices doubled

The president initially refused talks but backed down when oil industry, public health and education workers threatened to join labourers and students in a general strike on Wednesday.

Their protests began on 29 January after the government doubled domestic fuel prices and upped public transport costs 75% under reforms backed by the International Monetary Fund.

For over a week, about 4,000 protestors camped at Quito's Salesian University - the most visible show of force in a nationwide protest.

Hunger strikes

Ruth Penafiel, 34, an Amazon community leader, was one of 31 people who refused to eat for days, drinking only soft drinks and water prepared with essential salts and sugar.

"There used to be fear among protesters. Now there is none of that," she said on Wednesday.

There were similar protests last year by indigenous groups, supported by some military officers, which led to the toppling of then-President Jamil Mahuad.

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See also:

02 Feb 01 | Americas
US captive murdered in Ecuador
30 Jan 01 | Americas
Ecuador arrests indigenous leader
30 Jan 01 | Americas
Indians march on Ecuador capital
22 Jan 00 | Americas
Coup declared in Ecuador
06 Feb 01 | Americas
Four dead in Ecuador protests
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