Obama urges democratic solution to Ecuador tensions

Obama urges democratic solution to Ecuador tensions

US President Barack Obama called Ecuadorean counterpart Rafael Correa to urge that tensions in that country be resolved through democratic means, the White House said.

The call came after the Andean nation was briefly paralysed last week by a police revolt that Mr Correa called a coup.

Mr Correa is an ally of leftist presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia, who accused the United States of being behind the bloody revolt that spun out of control in Ecuador.

The White House said Mr Obama reiterated to Mr Correa that the United States supports him and Ecuador’s democratic institutions.

Mr Correa has brought unusual political stability to Ecuador, a traditionally volatile nation.

Earlier Ecuador’s interior minister said 46 police officers were detained for alleged participation in the police revolt against PresidentCorrea that claimed five lives.

A lawyer for some officers said a total of 57 were in custody and being held incommunicado.

In announcing the arrests, Interior Minister Gustavo Jalkh said prosecutors had voice recordings that indicate last Thursday’s uprising went far beyond a spontaneous revolt by officers upset by a new law that would strip them of promotion bonuses.

Prosecutors said they also detained a retired army major who was at Quito’s main police barracks when rebellious police roughed up and tear gassed the president.

The revolt ended when army commandos rescued Mr Correa in a hail of gunfire and concussion grenades at a hospital where he had been surrounded by insurrectionists.

But Mr Correa said yesterday that “the coup is not over.

“We will investigate ... all these things and try to take all precautions so there won’t be a repeat,” the president told reporters.

Lawyer Patricio Armijos said 57 police officers were being held at the police force’s dog training unit.

He said authorities were not permitting the officers to talk with anyone.

Mr Armijos said the prosecutor’s office notified attorneys it is starting a preliminary investigation.

“Which means that it will initiate a criminal proceeding, but we do not know the charges, the evidence or the case,” he said.

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