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Last Updated: Friday, 30 November 2007, 04:55 GMT
Ecuador forum dissolves Congress
Members of Ecuador's assembly meet in Montecristi to begin work on rewriting the constitution
The assembly is due to meet for six months
An assembly elected to rewrite Ecuador's constitution has dissolved the country's opposition-dominated Congress on its first day of work.

President Rafael Correa, whose allies control the assembly, wants to push through reforms blocked by Congress.

Mr Correa - who was also confirmed in office by the assembly - says Congress is corrupt and inept wants a new body to be elected.

His opponents have attacked his plans as an attack on democracy.

Mr Correa's drive for reform echoes those of his allies in Venezuela and Bolivia, Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales.

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa
Mr Correa made reform a key part of his 2006 election campaign

Mr Correa has repeatedly argued that constitutional reforms will make Ecuador a more just society and tackle endemic political instability.

The impoverished Andean nation has thrown out three presidents in the past 10 years.

Critics say the reforms will focus more power in the president's hands and this will frighten off foreign investors.

Mr Correa, who made reforming the constitution a key part of his election campaign last year, does enjoy widespread popular support.

In April, nearly 80% of voters backed his call for an assembly that would bypass Congress and rewrite the constitution. In September, voters then chose assembly members, giving 80 of the 130 seats to his Alianza Pais party.

The Constituent Assembly began its work on Thursday morning in the town of Montecristi, nearly two months after it was elected.

The assembly is due to meet for six months, after which the draft constitution will be put to a national referendum for approval.

On Wednesday, members of Congress who do not recognise the assembly's authority voted to begin their end-of-year holiday early but insisted they would be back at work on 3 January.



SEE ALSO
Ecuador assembly plans attacked
04 Oct 07 |  Americas
Correa 'to shut' Ecuador Congress
02 Oct 07 |  Americas
Ecuador president claims poll win
01 Oct 07 |  Americas
Ecuador 'expels World Bank envoy'
26 Apr 07 |  Americas
Ecuador MPs seek Colombia asylum
25 Apr 07 |  Americas
Profile: Ecuador's Rafael Correa
27 Nov 06 |  Americas
Country profile: Ecuador
22 Aug 07 |  Country profiles

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