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Ecuador’s president fled the capital and called a state emergency - what’s happening?

Ecuador’s president fled the capital and called a state emergency - what’s happening?”

The South American country of 17 million people appeared to be at a risky impasse, paralyzed by a lack of public transport and blockaded roads that were taking a toll on an already vulnerable economy.

Thousands of demonstrators converged on the Ecuadoran capital Quito on Tuesday as intensifying protests against soaring fuel prices slashed oil output by a third and forced under-fire President Lenin Moreno to vacate his government headquarters.

In a written decree on Tuesday, Moreno ordered that authorities restrict movement close to government buildings and strategic installations between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.to keep order.

Eliminating the subsidies is part of the measures created to lower the fiscal deficit, Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno said.

Moreno also accused his exiled predecessor Rafael Correa of trying to oust him with help from Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro.

On Tuesday, his government said it would be open to mediation by the United Nation or the Catholic Church to overcome the crisis.

The unrest has resulted in clashes with security forces, while some of the road blockages have affected petrol deliveries, leading to fuel shortages in parts of the country.

The number of arrests had risen to 570, he said.

Moreno said Monday that Ecuador's government faces security threats and will operate from the port city of Guayaquil instead of Quito, the capital.

Protesters from southern Andean provinces, some armed with sticks and whips, were travelling to the capital in pick-up trucks and on foot, according to CONAIE, while other indigenous groups were set to arrive from the north.

As well as ending fuel subsidies, the government is reducing the state workforce and planning some privatisations.

Moreno had enthusiastically backed Correa during his decade-long rule but broke with him after winning a 2017 election to succeed him, and moved economic policies to the right.

Speaking in Belgium, where he lives in self-exile, Correa told Reuters the accusation against him was nonsense. "They say I am so powerful that with an iPhone from Brussels I could lead the protests", he told Reuters.

"People couldn't take it anymore, that's the reality", he added.

With protesters swarming around Quito, various government buildings were attacked overnight, authorities said.

Production losses at the state-owned Petroamazonas "will reach 165,000 barrels per day", the ministry said in a statement.

Indigenous protesters played a major role in the 2005 resignation of Ecuador's president at the time, Lucio Gutierrez, though the military's tacit approval was key to his removal.

Violent rallies erupted in the South American country last week over austerity measures introduced by Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno, who is reportedly seeking to ink an aid deal with the International Monetary Fund (INF) in a bid to overhaul the country's debt.



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