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Ecuador constitutional court warns president to respect pending decision

[JURIST] Ecuador's Constitutional Tribunal [official website, in Spanish] has warned President Rafael Correa [official website, Spanish; BBC profile] that he would be acting illegally if he ignores a potential unfavorable ruling by the Tribunal on a controversial exercise of authority by the country's seven-member Supreme Electoral Tribunal [official website], which dismissed 57 of 100 lawmakers [JURIST report] in the Congress of Ecuador [official website] on Thursday. Tribunal president Dr. Santiago Velasquez Coello [official profile, Spanish] said Friday that "it is a crime when a citizen disregards a ruling" of the tribunal. Correa said Thursday that he will ignore unfavorable court rulings and proceed with plans to hold a referendum on whether Ecuador should form a constitutional assembly to rewrite its constitution [text, Spanish].

The Congress voted to hold a referendum [JURIST report] in February, but last week, Congress and Correa submitted separate versions of the referendum to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which chose Correa's version. Correa's version disregarded a stipulation by Congress that the constitutional assembly may not retroactively dismiss members of congress and other elected officials of previous elections. The 57-dismissed member of congress voted to impeach four members of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which prompted the tribunal to respond with the dismissals. In January, Correa became the eighth president [JURIST report] of Ecuador [JURIST news archive] in ten years on the platform promising to overhaul the nation's economy to fight poverty. Correa has characterized the congress as a "sewer of corruption" and has expressed admiration for the policies of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez [JURIST news archive]. AP has more.

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