Friday 9 December 2016

State of emergency as police and soldiers clash in Ecuador

Ben Westwood in Quito

Published 02/10/2010 | 05:00

Soldiers guard the government palace in Quito, Ecuador, yesterday
Soldiers guard the government palace in Quito, Ecuador, yesterday

Ecuador's police chief resigned yesterday and the country remained in a state of emergency one day after an uprising by officers who held President Rafael Correa for 12 hours.

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Special forces soldiers stormed the hospital where Mr Correa was being held and rescued him after a tense standoff that left at least two policemen dead, and dozens of police and civilians injured.

A defiant Mr Correa condemned the police rebellion as an attempted coup, claiming the officers had not even read the law they were opposing, and vowed that there would be "no pardon or forgiveness".

The new law would reduce their benefits and limit salary increases. Freddy Martinez, the police commander, resigned and police began talks with Lenin Moreno, the vice-president, to resolve the pay dispute.

Mr Correa blamed supporters of Lucio Gutierrez, the former president, for the attempted coup. Mr Gutierrez, who was himself overthrown in a coup in April 2005, denied involvement and accused Mr Correa of leading a "totalitarian government that doesn't respect the human rights of Ecuadorians".

South American leaders held an emergency meeting and pledged support for Mr Correa.

The British Foreign Office advised Britons in Ecuador to "remain indoors" and tourists were advised to consider postponing visits.

Mr Correa's opponents have accused him of trying to suppress freedom of expression with takeovers of TV stations and newspapers. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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