Friday, December 7, 2007

Constituent assembly to 'refound nation'

On November 29, Ecuador's new constituent assembly sat for the first time, beginning the process of rewriting the country's constitution as part of self-described socialist President Rafael Correa's project of refounding the country through a "citizen's revolution".
One of its first acts was to suspend the existing Congress without pay until the assembly process was completed — taking control of the country itself for the duration. While this move drew protests from the right-wing opposition parties, who refuse to recognise the assembly's authority, Correa submitted his resignation (which was refused) to the assembly, a symbolic move to emphasis the placing of the future in the assembly's hands.

The 130-member body now has six months, with the possibility of a 60-day extension, to draft a new constitution that will then be put to a national referendum next year. If this is accepted, new elections will be held.

The assembly, presided over by Correa's former adviser, Alberto Acosta, has already agreed on a set of by-laws and created 10 commissions of 13 members each to address fundamental areas of reform, including development, fundamental rights, territorial order, work and production, and the new legislative model.

Elected in November 2006 on a pledge to "refound" the country, Correa has initiated what he calls a "citizen's revolution" to overcome the massive exclusion that marks Ecuador, where over 50% of the population lives in poverty.