November 28, 2022

President of Ecuador proposes a list of questions for popular consultation

Read Time:8 Minute, 30 Second

(CNN Spanish) — During a public event in the Carapungo neighborhood, in the north of Quito, the President of the Republic, Guillermo Lasso, officially presented his popular consultation proposal that promotes amendments to the Constitution and legal reforms and that would once again bring citizens to the polls in Ecuador.

The “citizen consultation,” as the president described it, would be focused on three fundamental pillars: citizen security, institutional quality, and the environment. The list of questions was first sent to the Constitutional Court to carry out its prior constitutional analysis.

“Today I call on you as a Nation to face these threats from the roots, I call on you to use your democratic power through a citizen consultation that will face the problems that Ecuador has not been able to solve in its past and that currently do not allow us to develop to where we want, I am referring above all to insecurity and drug trafficking, but also to serious institutional deficiencies that undermine the quality of our democracy,” he said. William Lasso at the launch of your proposal.

The consultation proposal proposes, among other aspects, legal reforms so that the Armed Forces work in a complementary manner with the Police in the fight against organized crime and the extradition of Ecuadorians linked to transnational crimes. In political matters, it promotes the reduction of the number of legislators that make up the Assembly and the elimination of the power of the Citizen Participation Council to designate control authorities and in environmental matters, it intends to strengthen the legislation regarding water management and compensation to communities.

What is sought to change through the elections?

-Support from the Armed Forces

In order to face the security crisis facing the country, the Government wants the legal and constant support of the Armed Forces. The current Constitution establishes that only members of the Armed Forces will join forces with the National Police in matters of internal security when there is a situation of social unrest that implies the signing of a presidential decree of a state of emergency that so provides and a limited time. The Armed Forces cannot support the Police in internal protection and maintenance of public order, since their purpose is to protect external, border and other security.

-Reduction of assembly members

Regarding the number of legislators, currently, the Assembly is made up of 137 assembly members and it is estimated that, with the new 2022 population census, the number of legislators will rise to 152 assembly members, further increasing the bureaucratic mass of the Legislative. For this reason, the Government proposes a different calculation for the nomination of assembly members in future elections, which helps reduce the number of representatives.

-Reduce political parties and movements

Regarding the number of political parties, the Government reported that there are 272 authorized political movements in Ecuador that “do not guarantee citizen representation, nor the adequate participation of their members”, for which the referendum proposal proposes that there be at least a minimum of affiliates equivalent to 1.5% of the electoral registry of their territory so that they can remain in force.

-Extradition for Ecuadorians linked to transnational crime

Regarding the subject of the extradition of Ecuadorians, the Government recalls that in the country it is prohibited for all crimes, added those linked to transnational organized crime such as drug trafficking, arms trafficking, human trafficking and migrant smuggling. A constitutional reform in this regard would allow, according to the Government, less impunity and greater international cooperation in the fight against international crime.

-Change of functions to the Citizen Participation Council

The Council for Citizen Participation and Social Control, which is the fifth function of the State in Ecuador, has the constitutional power to appoint 77 authorities such as the comptroller, prosecutor, prosecutor, superintendents, among other key officials within the public administration. The Council has been surrounded by controversy in the appointment of officials and for this reason President Lasso proposes that the National Assembly be in charge of appointing these officials.

-A Prosecution Council to train Prosecution staff

The Government details that currently the Council of the Judiciary is the institution in charge of selecting, training, promoting and sanctioning the country’s prosecutors, despite the fact that the Prosecutor’s Office is an autonomous body within the administration of justice. For this reason, the Government proposes that it is no longer the Judiciary but a “Fiscal Council”, which is in charge of doing it. This Council would become an administrative, technical and auxiliary body that would be made up of seven members selected from outside the judiciary.

Who would be in charge of organizing the elections for the popular consultation?

The National Electoral Council would be the body in charge of calling new elections in Ecuador so that citizens can answer whether or not they agree with the questions of the popular consultation raised by President Lasso.

As established by law, the Government first sent its proposed questions to the Constitutional Court to assess its legal and constitutional relevance. That is, to carry out a constitutional review or control of constitutionality, which is the first step in this process.

What are the eight questions raised by the popular consultation proposal?

President Lasso pointed out that his popular referendum proposal came to fruition after several conversations with victims of crime, student associations, police and military personnel, relatives of police officers killed in service, with the Academy, with indigenous and peasant sectors, with non-governmental organizations , with groups of Human Rights, women and environmentalists who have added, according to the president, their criteria for the construction of the text.

“The ballot for this consultation has no candidates, no names of politicians, or parties, the ballot will be an opportunity, a necessary tool for change that contains ideas and broad guidelines on which we want to know your opinion. The citizen consultation is the solution because in it we do not choose a democratic position for 4 years, but rather what kind of society we want for the coming decades,” Lasso specified.

Proposal of questions for the referendum

Lasso raises eight questions for the citizen consultation that will be analyzed first by the Constitutional Court of Ecuador since they propose amendments to the Constitution of the country. These are the 8 questions:

1. Do you agree with allowing the additional support of the Armed Forces in the functions of the National Police to combat organized crime?

2. Do you agree with allowing the extradition of Ecuadorians who have committed crimes related to transnational organized crime, through processes that respect rights and guarantees?

3. Do you agree with guaranteeing the autonomy of the State Attorney General’s Office so that it selects, evaluates, promotes, trains and sanctions the servers that comprise it through a Fiscal Council?

4. Do you agree with reducing the number of assembly members and electing them according to the following criteria: 1 assembly member per province and 1 additional provincial assembly member for every 250 thousand inhabitants, 2 national assembly members for every million inhabitants and 1 assemblyman for every 500,000 inhabitants residing abroad?

5. Do you agree with requiring political movements to have a minimum number of affiliates equivalent to 1.5% of the electoral registry in their jurisdiction and forcing them to keep a registry of their members periodically audited by the National Electoral Council?

6. Do you agree with eliminating the power to designate authorities that the Citizen Participation Council has and implement processes that guarantee meritocracy, public scrutiny, collaboration and control of different institutions, so that it is the National Assembly that designates through of these processes to the authorities currently elected by the CPCCS and its advisers?

7. Do you agree with the incorporation of a water protection subsystem to the National System of Protected Areas?

8. Do you agree that individuals, communities, peoples and nationalities can be beneficiaries of compensation duly regularized by the State, for their support to the generation of environmental services?

What do the representatives of the institutions involved in the proposal say?

The State Attorney General’s Office, through its official Twitter account, reacted to the popular consultation proposal that proposes the formation of a Fiscal Council for the appointment of its officials. The Prosecutor’s Office made some clarifications and warned that it will file a legal appeal to deliver observations:

“The Prosecutor’s Office needs to have true autonomy that allows it to select, evaluate, train and sanction prosecutors and their teams at the national level, which is why the creation of another Council that hinders the aforementioned work would be unnecessary, since This institution has technical units that could take on these processes, respecting the suggested principles of oversight, meritocracy, orality, transparency and publicity,” the institution specified.

For her part, María Josefa Coronel, director of the Judiciary Council in Guayas, told CNN en Español that the proposal to remove functions from this institution is “puzzling” and causes a duplication of powers.

“My first reaction is bewilderment. The right thing to do would be to let justice go free. A Council of the Judiciary has already been structured; if something doesn’t work you have to check why it doesn’t work. It is impossible for us to continue having an internal disciplinary regulation that seems more to defend the corrupt judge than to sanction him and quickly remove him from the judicial function. If things get complicated with a Council of the Judiciary, I want to know with two councils, one for prosecutors and the other for judges, as if they were two activities that do not interact. It’s disconcerting,” Coronel told CNN.

In addition, the director Coronel pointed out that in the midst of the justice crisis in the country, the Judicial Council must be reinforced. “Another council is intended to be created to guarantee fiscal autonomy when the Prosecutor’s Office is autonomous,” she specified.

CNN contacted the communication teams of the president of the Citizen Participation Council and the president of the Assembly to find out their position on some of the points raised by the consultation proposal and we are waiting for a response.

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