Ecuadorian government lifts state of emergency amid protests

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso on Saturday lifted a state of emergency he had imposed in six provinces during an indigenous-led strike, a surprise move that came as lawmakers in the National Assembly blocked a motion by the opposition heard dropping him off from the office.

The decision to end the state of emergency followed an initial meeting between government officials and Ecuador’s largest indigenous organization, which began striking two weeks ago over lowering gas prices, imposing price controls on agricultural products and providing a higher education budget support financially . Lasso had accused the indigenous leader, who led the at times violent strike, of staging a coup.

After Saturday’s meeting, National Assembly President Virgilio Saquicela said a commission would be formed to facilitate dialogue to end the strike.

“The national government confirms its readiness to guarantee the creation of peace spaces where Ecuadorians can gradually resume their activities,” read a statement announcing the decree ending the state of emergency.

The meeting took place in the Basilica Church in the colonial center of Quito and was attended by the President of the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Ecuador, Leonidas Iza, other social leaders, Government Minister Francisco Jiménez and Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Holguín, among others.

“There was no commitment, just a decision by the[Indigenous Confederation]… to consult their bases on appointing a commission to start this dialogue,” Saquicela said, adding that “the government has made the opening up accordingly.” ”

Iza said the strike will not end until her demands are met. “Instead of scaring us even more, they increased our rebellion and dignity,” he said.

Iza said the strikers would rest over the weekend and asked for corridors to be opened in the inter-provincial border areas to allow food to pass and supply Quito, which is facing shortages of agricultural products.

Meanwhile, the opposition Union for Hope party, which is linked to former President Rafael Correa, called for Lasso’s removal in a virtual legislative session. The request was based on the state of emergency declared due to “serious civil unrest”, which has now been lifted.

Lasso’s removal would require the votes of at least 92 MPs, while the Union for Hope only has 47 seats.

On Thursday, the Indigenous Confederation said a protester died from chest and stomach wounds while protesting near the National Assembly in Quito, where about 100 other people sustained various injuries. Police tweeted that officers were also injured by pellets.

In Quito, protesters blocking roads have nearly brought the city to a standstill, and people are suffering from food and fuel shortages. Groups of protesters have marched through the city, attacking vehicles and civilians and forcing shops to close, some of which have been looted.

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