Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño will take a leave of absence from his official duties to help strengthen President Rafael Correa’s “Citizen’s Revolution,” Correa said on Friday.
South American satellite television network Telesur reported that Correa had asked Patino to temporarily step down from his ministerial position to help rebuild government support in the wake of the president said is an effort by government opponents to destabilize the country.
“We need the minister to return to our grassroots and build support for our programs within the Alianza Pais organization,” Correa said. Alianza Pais is the political party established by Correa that holds the majority of seats in the country’s National Assembly.
Prior to the visit of Pope Francis two weeks ago, Ecuador had seen several large protests of Correa’s policies in Guayaquil, Quito and Cuenca. The protests resumed after the pope’s visit but on a smaller scale.
The protests focused on inheritance and capital gains tax increases that Correa had proposed in May. He withdrew the proposals from the National Assembly last month, saying that a “national dialogue” was necessary to discuss the issues.
Correa’s overall popularity remains high, according to recent polls. One poll, conducted in Ecuador’s largest cities, showed the president with a 65% approval rating. A nationwide poll, using different methodology, showed him with a 46% approval rating. Both polls make him the most popular president in Latin America.