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Ex-Ecuador president wants new vote, denies planning coup

12 October 2019

Anti-government protesters in Ecuador's capital showed off captive police officers on Thursday, more than a week after the country plunged into deadly unrest over fuel price hikes and other austerity measures.

The office of Ecuador's ombudsman, which monitors conflicts, said one protester was killed due to brain trauma on Wednesday.

He returned briefly to Quito Wednesday as thousands of people representing indigenous groups, farmers, students and labor unions marched in the city, with clashes erupting between protestors and police. Articles appear on euronews.com for a limited time.

An indigenous leader and four other people have died in unrest in Ecuador since last week, the public defender's office said Thursday. Correa said "Moreno says whatever he wants, but this is irrational ... it's ridiculous".

Eight police officers are taken hostage in Ecuador amid continuing demonstrations which have forced the authorities in the funding.

Protests, which began when President Lenin Moreno's decision to cut subsidies led to a sharp increase in fuel prices, have persisted for days.

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The Foreign Office's travel advice page for Ecuador advises travellers to the region of the protests saying they have been "extensive" and have caused "nationwide disruption, with demonstrations and road blockages in many provinces".

The elimination of fuel subsidies is part of a package of austerity measures created to reduce the public deficit in keeping with the terms of a 4.2-billion-U.S. -dollar loan agreement the government had signed with the International Monetary Fund.

The demonstrations broke out after increases of up to 120 percent in fuel prices came into force on October 3.

Officials have already had some discussions with CONAIE leaders in Guayaquil, after mediation by the United Nations and Roman Catholic Church.

The energy ministry announced on Wednesday it was shutting down one of the country's two domestic oil pipelines, effectively suspending two-thirds of its distribution of crude.

Around 30 people, several from the security forces, are wounded and dozens arrested.

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Moreno, who still claims to be a socialist, has received unexpected support from the right and the army over the unrest.

Moreno has accused his predecessor and ex-ally Rafael Correa along with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of an "attempted coup d'etat". They also asked for the bodies of any dead protesters to be brought to the assembly. "Now we must let the president continue", said Geovanni Molina, a 68-year-old retiree.

The arrests "confirm all the interests that are behind the chaos in this country", she said. Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo said in an evening TV address that they had been released.

But what started as a concrete demand to reinstate fuel subsidies has turned into wider protests with many calling for Moreno to step down.

Maduro, a leftist firebrand whom Washington is seeking to oust, has denounced allegations of involvement as absurd.

Moreno has drawn support, however, from seven Latin American countries - including Argentina, Brazil and Colombia - that, in a joint statement, rejected any effort by Maduro and his allies to "destabilize" Ecuador.

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Ex-Ecuador president wants new vote, denies planning coup