During an interview with a local newspaper, Ecuador’s ombudsman called the upcoming referendum a “blank check,” citing concerns over a question that aims to restructure the Council for Citizen Participation and Social Control.
One of the most controversial questions in the referendum, locally known as a popular consultation, has been criticized for causing an institutional crisis. According to ombudsman Ramiro Rivadeneira the item proposes a “political takeover of all the institutions for the upcoming years.”
If the proposal is voted on favorably the Council’s current members, who designate the state attorney, all superintendents, the ombudsman, the public defender, the attorney general, the comptroller general, and the members of the National Electoral Council and the Constitutional Court, will be ousted and a temporary Council would be chosen by the National Assembly from seven three-name lists provided by the President Lenin Moreno.
Rivadeneira also claimed the way in which the Council is being restructured is “unconstitutional” and that “in a democratic country when an authority breaches its powers they face impeachment or a trial you don’t erase everything and start all over again.”
President Moreno’s supporters have, however, pointed to the former Comptroller’s links to corruption stating that it merits the Council’s restructuring, while his detractors say it will allow for further concentration of power in the figure of the president.
“If one questions the concentration of power during the former government, we cannot overcome it with further concentration,” Rivadeneira told El Universo.
During an interview with TeleSUR Rivadeneira also criticized the lack of a constitutionality ruling by the Constitutional Court, a pre-requisite bypassed by the National Electoral Council when it schedules the referendum for Feb. 4.
According to Ecuador's Constitution fundamental rights and the structure of the state cannot be changed through a referendum, these require the establishment of national constituent assembly.