Ecuador approves constitution rewrite

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Ecuador has voted to rewrite its constitution, ending an impasse between the country's president and lawmakers.

Leftist president Rafael Correa created a fundamental divide between his views and those of most of the Latin American country's congress after winning election last December.

Seeking to dismantle the "neo-liberal" elites which he believes have held back his country's development, Mr Correa wants a new parliament in which the role of parties will be severely limited.

Congress has violently opposed his proposals, arguing they were attempts to gain greater power for the executive branch of government at the expense of legislators.

The impasse has caused much instability in Ecuador during the past few months which even saw 57 legislators dismissed from congress. A judge on the supreme electoral tribunal was dismissed for attempting to reinstate the 57.

Resorting to the popular will in order to resolve the clash, Mr Correa sought popular backing for his reforms. With voting now complete exit polls show over three-quarters of voters backing him, apparently stymieing the efforts to parliamentarians concerned at the centralisation of power now likely to take place.

"The referendum was a victory for not just one person, but for the whole country," the AFP news agency quoted Mr Correa as saying.

He added that he plans to expel representatives of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from the country. Mr Correa's stance has been supported by regional ally Hugo Chavez, the anti-US president of Venezuela.

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