[JURIST] Ecuador's special assembly charged with rewriting the nation's constitution [text, in Spanish] provisionally approved a new constitution on Thursday. The draft includes unprecedented measures [AP report] giving the president the power to remove Congress in the first three years of a four-year term, to control monetary policy, and to seek re-election for an additional four year term. Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa [official website, in Spanish; personal website], who has led the call for constitutional reform, has pushed for restraints on powerful political parties [JURIST report], freedom from foreign influence, increased governmental accountability, and regional – rather than national – elections. Critics fear that Correa will follow the example set by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez [BBC profile; JURIST report] in using the reforms to expand his presidential powers. The new constitution must pass in a national referendum before it can take effect. BBC News has more.
The approval comes more than a year after a national referendum where voters overwhelmingly approved measures for constitutional reform [JURIST report], including establishing the Constitutional Assembly. Correa pledged to rewrite the country's constitution [JURIST report] following his leftist coalition's landslide victory [JURIST report] in Constitutional Assembly elections in October 2007. Correa's Alianza PAIS party [official website, in Spanish] has a majority in the Constitutional Assembly, holding 80 out of 130 seats. In November 2007, the Assembly suspended Ecuador's congress [JURIST report] pending approval of the new charter in a nationwide referendum. The vote on the new constitution is expected to be held on September 28.