MOSCOW, November 1 (RIA Novosti) — An Ecuadorian court has authorized the nation’s Congress to amend the Constitution without a referendum to allow the current President Rafael Correa stay in power after 2017, when his last allowed term expires.
The Constitutional Court of Ecuador, or El Tribunal, during a session in the southwestern town of Guayaquil, has ruled that the nation’s Parliament has a legal authority to review, pass and implement 16 amendments to Constitution, previously proposed by the MPs. The aforementioned amendments extend term limits for all elected officials, including the nation’s President, the leftist Rafael Correa.
According to the Court’s ruling, the National Assembly must approve the new term limits within a year after two rounds of debates. The President may now be reelected for indefinite number of terms, under the court’s ruling. Correa and his party have a solid majority in the legislature, so there is no doubt he will be able to extend his rule.
Correa was elected in 2013 for his last legally allowed 4-year tenure in the office. El Tribunal’s decision allows him to stay in power by being reelected indefinitely thereafter.
Ecuador’s current constitution was adopted by referendum during President Correa’s rule in 2008 and the opposition insists that any constitutional amendment must be subject to popular consultation. However, El Tribunal has ruled that no referendum is necessary.
“These issues do not alter the basic structure or nature of the State, neither do they provide for restrictions in rights and guarantees, nor they modify the process of reform”, El Tribunal’ ruling said.
Ecuador’s political opposition to President Correa, however, has demanded a popular consultation on the measure, as they feel El Tribunal’s ruling is a sign of growing authoritarianism under Correra’s rule. Guillermo Lasso, the leader of the opposition, wrote in his Twitter that “as the Ecuadorians, we want to be and must be consulted with. On this [issue] we are going to have a popular vote”.
"It seems @CCE_ECU has used the Day of the Dead holiday to bury one of the pillars of Ecuadoran democracy," he wrote earlier.
Other measures, approved by El Tribunal, include the authorization of the army in assisting police with “domestic security” and lowering the minimum age requirement for those running for President from 35 to 30 years old. There is also an amendment on ‘mass communications’ which allegedly allows a greater governmental control of the press.
The opposition has launched a movement for popular consultation, with Lasso saying, “As Ecuadorians, we will not be left with our hands tied, we’ll make our voices heard. This will be a demonstration in defense of democracy and freedom, so that the will of the Ecuadorians is heard.”