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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 April 2007, 07:33 GMT 08:33 UK
Ecuador MPs seek Colombia asylum
Dismissed-then-reinstated Congressmen speak prior to a press conference in Quito on Tuesday
Some 50 MPs who were dismissed last month have been reinstated
At least 11 Ecuadorian MPs have sought political asylum in Colombia after a state prosecutor issued warrants for their arrests for treason.

More are expected to follow, according to one of the MPs, Gloria Gallardo.

Some 24 MPs have been accused of rising against the government, out of a total of 50 MPs who were fired last month and reinstated on Monday.

They were sacked for opposing a vote on constitutional reform which gives President Rafael Correa more power.

The referendum was approved by the overwhelming majority of voters last week.

On Monday, the Supreme Court said the 50 MPs' dismissals were unconstitutional and reinstated them.

But Congress, now led by supporters of Mr Correa, responded by sacking the court's nine top judges on Tuesday.

The 24 MPs are accused of sedition for "rising against the government, refusing to recognise the constitution, and impeding a meeting of the Congress", prosecutor Elsa Moreno is quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

"We have come to Colombia, which is a sister country, to ask for protection and political asylum," said Ms Gallardo.

"We are being persecuted. The government is violating our human rights."

Political crisis

Mr Correa says the deputies were sacked for incompetence and did not deserve their jobs back.

Mr Correa took over as president in January promising radical change to the way the country is governed and 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.

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




SEE ALSO
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Judge fired amid Ecuador deadlock
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Ecuador ends Congress stalemate
20 Mar 07 |  Americas
MPs clash with police in Ecuador
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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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