In boost for Correa, Ecuador voters approve new constitution

Other News Materials 29 September 2008 19:22 (UTC +04:00)

The new Ecuadorian constitution, promoted by leftist President Rafael Correa, was approved by 64 per cent of votes cast, election authorities TSE said Monday after counting out roughly 80 per cent of the votes, dpa reported.

According to the figures, around 28 per cent of the 10 million voters had rejected the constitution with the remaining ballot papers being empty or invalid.

For Correa, the outcome marks the biggest success since his election in 2006.

He declared a "landslide" for the "yes" vote after the first projections Sunday night. The constitutional draft was his most important election promise in the 2006 election.

The new constitution entails early presidential and legislative elections. It also establishes free healthcare and education, and a more direct form of democracy, while giving the president control over monetary policy - rather than the central bank, as is currently the case.

For the first time, the constitution would provide for a one-time re-election of the president. If Correa wins a four-year term in the new elections foreseen in February 2009, this could open the theoretical prospect of his remaining in power until 2017. His first two years in power since 2006 would not be counted.

Ahead of the referendum, the opposition charged that Correa wants to increase his powers and has blasted the draft constitution as a copy of the "dictatorship" of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez that will scare off foreign investment and hamper broader economic success.