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Ecuador constitutional court reinstates dismissed lawmakers

[JURIST] Ecuador's Constitutional Tribunal [official website, in Spanish] Monday reinstated some 50 members of the country's Congress dismissed [JURIST report] last month by order of Ecuador's electoral tribunal [official website, in Spanish] after they were found to have illegally interfered with a referendum pushed by President Rafael Correa [official website, in Spanish; BBC profile] on whether to draft a new constitution [text, in Spanish]. The referendum held April 15 resulted in a massive vote of support [JURIST reports] for the convening of a constitutional assembly to rewrite the national charter. Correa denounced the court ruling Monday, called it "illegal" and "shameless". Ecuador's Congress is currently dominated by pro-Correa lawmakers and the reinstatement of the ousted representatives threatens to rekindle the political tug of war between the presidency and the legislature [JURIST news archive] over the reform process and the domination of the legislature and judiciary by traditional power elites.

In the wake of the ruling, Ecuadorean riot police surrounded Congress Tuesday to maintain order in the event of possible violence. The dismissed legislators fought with police [JURIST report] when they initially attempted to retake their seats after the original electoral tribunal decision; this time, however, one of the lawmakers told Reuters, "We should be let back into Congress, but we fear for our safety. We will analyze the position of the president and the election court before making any decision." Reuters has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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