If there was any doubt about the biggest question that could appear on the forthcoming public referendum announced by, it was dispelled Thursday night when President Lenin Moreno met with the leadership of his Alianza Pais (AP) party.
AP officers, most of them loyal to former president Rafael Correa, are adamantly opposed to including the presidential term limit question that, if passed, would preclude Correa from running again for president.
Moreno, meanwhile, held firm on his claim that the public should have the right to restore the eight-year presidential term limit prescribed by the 2009 constitution. With a super majority in the National Assembly, Correa pushed through an amendment allowing indefinite reelection in 2015. Public opinion polls showed that the public overwhelmingly opposed the change.
Current National Assembly President and AP leader Jose Serrano told Moreno that the questions on the referendum should be limited to budgetary issues, violence against women and taxation. “There is no need to reconsider the question of term limits, which would represent taking away the rights of the people,” he said.
Serrano and some other members of AP were angered by comments Moreno made earlier in the week in a CNN interview when the president said that a term limit question would “almost certainly” appear on the ballot. “Politicians are like diapers,” he said, “They need to be changed occasionally.”
Although the he won’t announce the final questions that will be included on the referendum ballot until next week, Moreno says, in addition to term limits, his priorities are stopping corruption, environmental protection, restructuring government.
Moreno says that the 2009 constitution, also called the Constitution of Montecristi for the town in which the constitutional convention met, should never have been changed. “They created a document that championed democracy and the will of the people and yet the former government felt the need to change it,” he said. “I’m suggesting we return to its original intent.”
At Thursday’s meeting, part of which was held behind closed doors, Moreno reportedly reminded AP officers that he was president and had the authority to make the final call on questions. “Yes, I have an obligation to you, the members of my party,” he was quoted as saying. “On the other hand, I have a greater obligation to the people of Ecuador.”
In addition to Serrano, AP president Gabriela Rivadeneira an party officers Esteban Melo, Augusto Espinosa and Pabel Muñoz all made pleas to the president not to include the question of presidential terms.
Moreno told party leaders that he liked several of the questions they had proposed and that he would “consider them carefully” before making his October 2 announcement.