President of Ecuador blames meddling after austerity measures lead to major protests

09 Octobre, 2019, 14:23 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
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Ecuador's president, Lenín Moreno, has moved his government from the capital in Quito to the coastal city of Guayaquil amid violent protests over the end of fuel subsidies.

The unrest has resulted in clashes with security forces, while some of the road blockages have affected petrol deliveries, leading to fuel shortages in parts of the country.

Protesters from southern Andean provinces, some armed with sticks and whips, were travelling to the capital in pick-up trucks and on foot, according to CONAIE, while other indigenous groups were set to arrive from the north.

Protesters seized some oil installations and the state oil company, Petroecuador, warned that production losses could reach 165,000 barrels a day, or almost one-third of total production, if insecurity continues.

Moreno has accused the leftist Correa, his one-time mentor and boss when he was vice president, of seeking a coup with the help of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro.

Scores of protesters could be seen inside the national assembly building in videos posted to social media on Tuesday, some waving flags at the chamber's podium, with others chanting slogans against President Lenin Moreno, who has come under fire over a series of spending cuts and other austerity moves linked to an International Monetary Fund loan deal signed in March.

Hence, with Moreno fearing more disruptions in Quito, he made a decision to move government business and operations to Guayaquil.

A demonstrator prepares to throw an object during a protest in Quito, Ecuador. A total of 477 people have been detained. "All we need is a little bit of understanding from the Ecuadorean people". "We reject violence as a form of political protest", acting assistant secretary for the State Department's Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Michael Kozak said in a tweet.

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On Sunday, the president had called for dialogue with the indigenous groups.

As people continue to stream into Quito to take part in the demonstrations, now in their sixth day, the protesters are gearing up for a general strike on Wednesday, hoping to compel the government to act on demands to reconsider the austerity measures.

Correa meanwhile called for early elections, citing "serious social upheaval", and denied Moreno's accusations that he was fomenting a coup.

Ecuador's economy is in debt for about $3.6 billion, due to the previous leadership.

Facing the biggest challenge to his 2-1/2-year rule, Moreno has refused to reinstate fuel subsidies he recently cut and ruled out stepping down.

"This is a very hard situation, that could lead us into less stable situations, to governments that fall", said Simon Pachano, a political scientist at Quito's FLACSO university. The outnumbered security forces have been unable to prevent much of the destruction.

Indigenous leaders claimed they were holding several dozen soldiers since Sunday.

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