Ecuador leader ousted

10/01/2019 Posted by admin

In the capital Quito the embattled Mr Gutierrez left the Carondelet presidential palace by helicopter to loud cheers from hundreds of people gathered in the nearby Plaza de Armas, just as the legislature named Vice President Alfredo Palacio as the new head of state.

Local television said Mr Gutierrez then boarded a small plane at Quito’s airport but it was prevented from taking off by demonstrators blocking the airstrip.

It was believed he was hoping to fly to Panama, to join his wife and daughters.

Demonstrators celebrated his ousting and arrest on the streets of Quito, by chanting and waving flags outside the palace.

Elsewhere looters broke into buildings and set fires at the Social Welfare Ministry.

On Tuesday an estimated 50,000 demonstrators gathered near Congress in demanding the resignation of Mr Gutierrez.

Police put the city under a state of emergency and used tear gas to disperse protesters. One man was killed and scores injured.

On Wednesday 60 of the 62 lawmakers present at the congressional session voted to sack Mr Gutierrez.

The government earlier rejected a congressional vote to oust him, but the military then withdrew its support for the president who had already been weakened by street protests.

The current political turmoil began in December after Mr Gutierrez had 27 of 31 Supreme Court justices dismissed, a move seen by opponents as an attempt to consolidate power.

Discontent spread rapidly over the new supreme court’s decisions not to put on trial former presidents Abdala Bucaram, who ruled from 1996 to 1997, and Gustavo Noboa, president from 2000 to 2003.

Mr Gutierrez was elected President on a left-leaning platform in 2002, after winning a presidential election runoff.

A colonel in the army, he had a few years earlier made his mark as a champion of poor and indigenous Ecuadorians who were protesting the economic policies of then-president Jamil Mahuad.

He was involved in a coup to oust the elected President Mahuad in 2000.

Mr Gutierrez is the third president to be ousted since 1997. That year, Congress removed Abdala Bucaram on grounds of mental incapacity.

The Brazilian government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has reportedly agreed to grant political asylum to Mr Gutierrez, a Brazilian foreign ministry official told news service AFP.

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