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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 April 2007, 21:44 GMT 22:44 UK
Ecuador's Congress sacks judges
A march is held in Quito to protest against a court's decision to reinstate 50 lawmakers
Chaos has ensued since Mr Correa became president in January
Ecuador's Congress has sacked nine top judges after they voted to reinstate 50 lawmakers fired last month for opposing a referendum on constitutional reform.

President Rafael Correa insisted the lawmakers were sacked for incompetence, and did not deserve their jobs back.

On Monday the Supreme Court ruled the dismissals were unconstitutional. The Congress now led by supporters of Mr Correa responded by sacking the judges.

The Congressmen are opposed to radical reforms being implemented by Mr Correa.

Rafael Correa took over as president in January promising radical change to the way the country is governed, hoping to end 10 years of political turmoil, but it has been a chaotic few months, says the BBC's South America correspondent, Daniel Schweimler.

Mr Correa had condemned Monday's Supreme Court ruling to reinstate the lawmakers as shameless, and criticised the move as a violation of legal procedures.

'Slipping power'

On Tuesday the president sent extra police to the Congress building in the capital, Quito, to prevent the reinstated politicians from attending the vote.

A woman votes in  Cangahua, north of Ecuador's capital Quito
The referendum was backed by the majority of Ecuadoran people
He warned that they could be sent to prison for causing a disturbance.

Fifty-seven congressmen were originally removed from office, but the constitutional court verdict applied only to the 50 who had signed a legal petition to be reinstated.

The Congressmen and women are opposed to radical reforms being implemented by Mr Correa - reforms he says will give a greater voice to the people and bypass a Congress he accuses of corruption and mismanagement.

Earlier this month his proposals received the overwhelming backing of the Ecuadoran people in a referendum.

The planned changes face strong opposition from a political establishment that sees power and influence slipping from its grasp, our correspondent says.




SEE ALSO
Ecuador leader celebrates 'win'
16 Apr 07 |  Americas
Judge fired amid Ecuador deadlock
29 Mar 07 |  Americas
Ecuador ends Congress stalemate
20 Mar 07 |  Americas
MPs clash with police in Ecuador
14 Mar 07 |  Americas
Ecuador swears in new president
16 Jan 07 |  Americas
Profile: Ecuador's Rafael Correa
27 Nov 06 |  Americas
Country profile: Ecuador
15 Jan 07 |  Country profiles

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