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New Ecuador constitution approved in national referendum

[JURIST] In a national referendum on Sunday, Ecuadorean voters overwhelmingly approved a new constitution which consolidates and significantly broadens the powers held by leftist President Rafael Correa [official website, in Spanish; BBC profile]. The new constitution [text, in Spanish] gives the president the power to remove Congress in the middle of a four-year term, to control monetary policy, and to seek re-election for an additional term. The constitution also includes plans to tighten control of Ecuador's vital mining and oil industries. President Correa called the vote a 'historic victory,' commenting [Reuters report; official statement, in Spanish], "Today, Ecuador has decided on a new nation, the old structures are defeated." AP has more. BBC has additional coverage.

The special assembly charged with rewriting the constitution provisionally approved the document in July [JURIST report]. The success of Correa's referendum fulfills Correa's pledge to rewrite the country's constitution [JURIST report] after his leftist coalition's landslide victory [JURIST report] in October 2007. Correa's Alianza PAIS party [official website, in Spanish] has a majority in the Constituent Assembly. Critics continue to fear the 444-article constitution gives the president too much control over the economy and the judiciary, which would allow Correa to follow the example set by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez [BBC profile] in using the reform to further expand his powers.

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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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