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Ecuador constitutional court upholds removal of legislators

[JURIST] Ecuador's Constitutional Tribunal [official website, in Spanish] on Wednesday upheld last month's decision by the country's Supreme Electoral Tribunal [official website, in Spanish] to dismiss 57 members of the legislature. The lawmakers, who oppose a planned April 15 referendum to amend the constitution [JURIST report], had been reinstated by a judge [JURIST report] last Thursday. The Supreme Electoral Tribunal responded immediately by firing the judge [BBC report], calling his actions illegal, and upholding the March 21 swearing-in of replacement legislators [JURIST report]. In its decision on Wednesday, the Constitutional Tribunal ignored a petition brought by the dismissed legislatures seeking reinstatement.

Ecuador President Rafael Correa [official website, in Spanish; BBC profile], who assumed office in January as the eighth president in a decade, has called the Ecuadoran Congress a "sewer of corruption." The latest political controversy began when Correa and the unicameral Congress [official website, in Spanish] submitted to the tribunal differing versions of a referendum on amending the constitution. The tribunal accepted Correa's version, which permitted the constitutional assembly to retroactively fire legislators. In turn, the 57 legislators voted to dismiss four of the tribunal members, prompting the tribunal to fire the 57 for illegally interfering with their decision. Ecuador's Constitutional Tribunal then rejected the lawmaker's appeal [JURIST report], leading to violence between the fired lawmakers and police. AP has more.

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