Thousands rally in Ecuador for and against president

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Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa (C) participates in a May Day march on May 1, 2015 in Quito

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa (C) participates in a May Day march on May 1, 2015 in Quito (AFP Photo/Juan Cevallos)

Quito (AFP) - Tens of thousands of Ecuadorans, including President Rafael Correa, his supporters and anti-government protesters turned out Friday for May Day rallies across a handful of cities.

Correa, a leftist and economist by training who has been in power since 2007, walked arm-in-arm with ministers, assembly members and other officials to Quito's central Plaza Santo Domingo, as a crowd waving flags and chanting slogans followed.

The president touted recent labor reforms, such as an increase in the minimum wage, while warning followers that opponents planned to wear down the government ahead of the 2017 presidential elections.

Anti-government protesters, including workers' organizations, indigenous people, students and environmental activists gathered in an adjacent plaza, demonstrating against Correa's administration.

"This is a showing to assert that the government has not succeeded with its policies," Edgar Sarango, president of the Unitary Workers Front, told the crowd.

The protesters carried signs reading "No + Correa" and "The government beats down society by imposing fear and lying."

In cities like Guayaquil in the southwest and Cuenca in the south, similar pro- and anti-government demonstrators gathered. Authorities did not provide a figure on how many people participated.

Demonstrations against Correa on March 5 and 19 left three wounded and 13 arrested.

About 30 percent of Ecuador's 15 million people live below the poverty line and Correa's social programs and hefty public spending have won him broad support in the country.