Latin America & Caribbean

Ecuador legislature lifts presidential re-election limit

Protesters opposing the government of President Rafael Correa clash with members of the security forces close to the National Assembly headquarters Image copyright EPA
Image caption The opposition called for a referendum on the constitutional amendments

Ecuador's National Assembly has approved a constitutional amendment allowing the president and other officials to be re-elected for an indefinite number of terms.

The change is part of a package of reforms backed by President Rafael Correa.

After the vote opposition demonstrators clashed with police outside the assembly building in Quito.

They say the reforms are an attempt by Mr Correa to tighten his grip on power.

But the constitutional change lifting restrictions on the number of re-elections only comes into force in 2021.

Mr Correa says he does not intend to run for re-election in 2017.

'The people will rule'

Other reforms approved include changes to the role of the armed forces, the media and labour relations.

The opposition boycotted the session, but Mr Correa's left-wing coalition had enough votes to secure the approval of the 15 amendments.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Rafael Correa has been in power since 2007

The measures were approved by 100 votes to eight, with one abstention.

"We will continue governing for the common good of the country, with full democratic legitimacy," Mr Correa tweeted from Paris, where he is taking part in the COP21 World Climate Change Conference.

"In Ecuador, the people of Ecuador will rule!" he wrote.

The opposition had asked for the constitutional amendments to be submitted to a referendum.

"More than 85% of the people demanded to have their voice heard [in a referendum]," said opposition politician Guillermo Lasso.

"But we will change that when we win the 2017 election," said Mr Lasso.

Opposition politicians say Mr Correa was inspired by other Latin American left-wing governments, including Venezuela and Nicaragua, which changed their constitutions to allow the indefinite re-election of the president.

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