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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 November 2005, 18:56 GMT
Ecuador swears in new top court
Former Ecuadoran President Lucio Gutierrez
Former President Gutierrez tried to replace the Supreme Court
The new judges on Ecuador's Supreme Court, which was at the centre of a political crisis earlier this year, have all been sworn in.

The 31 appointees were chosen by an independent panel on Monday.

The swearing-in ceremony in Quito was attended by interim President Alfredo Palacio and international monitors.

Former President Lucio Gutierrez was ousted by Congress in April, after protests intensified by a controversial reform of the Supreme Court.

He is currently in detention following his return from exile in Colombia.

Unrest

The selection panel, intended to reflect a cross-section of Ecuadoran society, chose the new court members after a public hearing that reviewed 165 candidates.

International monitors from the United Nations, the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) oversaw the selection process.

File photograph of protests in Ecuador
Street protests forced President Gutierrez out of power

At the swearing-in ceremony, OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza called on Ecuadorans to "support and respect" the new Supreme Court.

Mr Gutierrez came to power in 2002 on a left-wing, populist platform, promising to tackle social problems.

In order to finance the country's large foreign debt, he turned to IMF-inspired austerity measures which generated widespread unrest.

The situation worsened in December 2004, when Mr Gutierrez sacked almost all of the judges on the Supreme Court, alleging they were biased against him.

The new court promptly dropped outstanding corruption charges against a Gutierrez ally, former President Abdala Bucaram.

Congress then voted to sack Mr Gutierrez, who fled to Colombia.




SEE ALSO:
Ecuador leader clashes with MPs
18 Oct 05 |  Americas
Ecuador ex-president given asylum
04 Oct 05 |  Americas
Ecuador president defends sacking
25 Apr 05 |  Americas
Ecuador ex-head flies into exile
24 Apr 05 |  Americas
Ecuador Congress sacks president
20 Apr 05 |  Americas
Q&A: Ecuador's latest upheaval
24 Apr 05 |  Americas


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