Seven changes to Ecuador’s constitution are being discussed in the National Assembly, including ones that would limit the authority of the Council for Citizen Participation and Social Control (Cpccs) and reduce the number of members in the assembly.
Another proposal would order a national referendum on gay marriage and, depending on its outcome, add language to the constitution defining marriage.
Assemblyman Héctor Muñoz proposes reforms to the Cpccs requiring that it turn over the results of investigations to the Comptroller or Attorney General for final resolution. Under current constitutional language, Cpccs is authorized to fire and replace public officials, including judges and prosecutors.
“Cpccs was misused by the former president [Rafael Correa] as an extension of executive authority and it should not be allowed to happen again,” Muñoz said. “As a political construct, the council was an invention of Hugo Chavez and we all know how that worked out in Venezuela. The council’s authority was abused in Ecuador.”
Conservative Assemblyman Héctor Yépez sparked heated debate when he proposed that the assembly should authorize a national referendum to define marriage. He claimed the ruling of the Constitutional Court allowing gay marriage unfairly ignored the will of the people. Yépez wants language included in the constitution that prescribes that marriage must be reserved for heterosexual couples.
Assembly members Fernando Callejas and Marcela Aguiñaga rejected Yépez’s proposal, with Aguiñaga accusing Yépez of doing the bidding of the Catholic church. She said the constitution prohibits referendums that allow the majority of voters to violate the rights of minorities. Callejas said that it was the duty of the Assembly to defend the court. “We cannot, by fiat, attempt to circumvent the actions of the courts,” he said.
Other proposed constitutional changes would provide greater autonomy to Ecuador’s Central Bank and give local (decentralized) governments, such as prefectures and municipalities, more authority over the collection and disbursement of finances.
To amend the constitution or to order a national referendum requires a two-third vote of the assembly.