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Ecuador congress dismisses constitutional court judges after reinstatement ruling

[JURIST] The constitutional crisis in Ecuador deepened Tuesday as the country's Congress [official website, in Spanish] struck back at high court judges who on Monday had ordered the reinstatement of 50 lawmakers [JURIST report] opposed to President Rafael Correa [official website, in Spanish; personal website] and sought to have those legislators arrested, prompting some to flee the country. Earlier Tuesday Correa deployed a police cordon around the Congress building in Quito to prevent the dissident lawmakers from reentering to take their seats, warning that if any tried "it will be necessary to send them to prison." Congress, dominated by Correa supporters since the opposition lawmakers were dismissed [JURIST report] in February by the country's electoral tribunal and replaced by Correa supporters, afterwards voted to dismiss the Constitutional Tribunal [official website] judges, insisting that their terms had in fact ended in January.

Correa is now left in the position of controlling all three branches of Ecuador's government and has popular momentum in the wake of a referendum earlier this month that overwhelmingly supported [JURIST report] his call for convening a constitutional assembly to rewrite the country's charter, a move opposed by the dissident lawmakers. Ecuador's electoral tribunal announced Monday that candidates for the constitutional assembly could begin campaigning in mid-August for election September 30. Reuters has more. AP has additional coverage.

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