Ecuador's president will seek cabinet shuffle, change to party

Reuters
Ecuador's President Correa is introduced by the director of his political party Mora before addressing the media on the results based on exit polls in the local elections in Quito
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Ecuador's President Rafael Correa (C) is introduced by the director of his political party Galo Mora …

By Yuri Garcia

GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador (Reuters) - Ecuador's President Rafael Correa on Tuesday said he will ask for his cabinet's resignation and reshape his political party after the loss of the capital city of the oil-producing Andean nation to the opposition in local elections.

Opposition candidates on Sunday won elections to run the local governments of Quito and industrial city Cuenca, and maintained control of the economic capital and port city of Guayaquil in an unsettling result for the government.

"There will be a cabinet crisis," Correa told reporters in the port city of Guayaquil, adding that he had considered changing his government ministers prior to the vote.

"The problem isn't the government; it could win many posts ... we believe in any case that fresh air is needed."

He said he would restructure his Alianza Pais or Country Alliance movement that has sought to make its socialist "Citizen's Revolution" the defining feature of its government, a project which aims to reduce poverty and social inequality.

Correa said the loss of Quito was painful and could make the country ungovernable. He accused associates of the winner, Mauricio Rodas, of links with the "fascist right" wing in Venezuela.

Venezuela has been shaken by a fortnight of violent opposition protests over inflation, crime and economic shortages that its socialist President Nicolas Maduro has blamed on "fascists" seeking a coup with the backing of the United States.

Correa had warned in the run-up to the elections that defeat in the capital city could tempt opposition leaders to use their power to destabilize the country, a tactic he said was behind the protests in Venezuela.

Analysts say the defeat in Ecuador reflects dissatisfaction among the electorate over the Correa administration's perceived interference in local government and harsh criticism of opponents during the campaign, and may force him to adopt a more conciliatory style.

Correa denied the election was a disaster for his movement, pointing out that the party received the most votes overall nationwide.

Ecuador is the smallest member of the OPEC group of oil producing nations, with output averaging 520,000 barrels per day in January.

(Additional reporting by Alexandra Valencia in Quito, Writing by Helen Murphy; Editing by Peter Murphy and Lisa Shumaker)

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