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  • Xavier Lasso (R) stands beside President Rafael Correa at the presidential palace during a changing of the guard ceremony January 19, 2015.

    Xavier Lasso (R) stands beside President Rafael Correa at the presidential palace during a changing of the guard ceremony January 19, 2015. | Photo: Government of Ecuador

Published 21 July 2015

Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño has stepped down temporarily to focus on mobilizing a pro-government grassroots movement.

The brother of a controversial opposition leader in Ecuador was named temporary foreign minister Monday, after it was announced incumbent Ricardo Patiño was taking a two-month leave from the role to get back to organizing the grassroots of the ruling PAIS Alliance.

Former journalist Xavier Lasso, who is Ecuador's representative to the United Nations, will take over the managing the Foreign Ministry temporarily.

His brother, Guillermo Lasso, has been one of the firebrand politicians opposed to PAIS’s progressive policies who have whipped up often-violent public anti-government protests recently.

Guillermo Lasso lost the 2013 Presidential elections, trailing Rafael Correa by close to 35 percent.

“Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño confirmed that during his two-month vacation Xavier Lasso will replace him.”

President Rafael Correa announced Thursday that Foreign Minister Patiño would step down to take a two-month leave to mobilize the base of supporters backing the ruling PAIS Alliance party in the face of right-wing opposition attempts to destabilize the government, particularly in the country’s capital Quito.

RELATED: 6 Key Points About the Opposition Protests in Ecuador

Correa requested Patiño take on the task due to the minister's past experience in political organizing, according to Ecuador's state media El Ciudadano.

Lasso has been Ecuador's U.N. representative for over two years. Before becoming a diplomat, he worked in Ecuador's public media sector in television, radio, and print media.

Ricardo Patiño has been foreign minister since 2010 and will return to the post after a two-month leave.

RELATED: Poll Reaffirms Two-Thirds of Ecuadoreans Support Correa

According to local media, there has not been a disruption of activities in the foreign ministry since the announcement of Patiño's leave of absence.

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