Ecuador's New Legislature Takes Office
    2013-05-15 04:55:25     Xinhua       Web Editor: Mao Yaqing

Ecuador's new National Assembly, elected in Feb. 17 elections that saw the ruling party win an overwhelming majority of seats, took office Tuesday for a period of four years.

In a ceremony held at the Legislative Palace in Quito, 137 deputies, including 100 from the ruling PAIS Alliance, were officially installed.

The ruling party's absolute majority in the unicameral parliament will allow the government of socialist President Rafael Correa to pass laws it was not able to do before due to a lack of votes, as well as define the legislative and fiscal agenda.

At the opening session, guarded by some 700 troops, three women legislators from the ruling party were appointed to lead the parliament, marking a first in the history of Ecuador.

Gabriela Rivadeneira was named Assembly President, while Rossana Alvarado and Marcela Aguinaga were named first and second Vice Presidents respectively.

"To deepen the people's revolution requires radicalizing democracy, spreading the culture of participation (and) empowerment of historically excluded sectors to every corner of the country," said Rivadeneira.

Rivadeneira, who at 29 is the youngest lawmaker to lead a parliament in Latin America, said she will try "to build a renewed assembly that is closer to the people."

"In the next four years, we will work for everyone's well being. Gone are the days when the division of power meant conflict and political infighting that made the country backward," she added.

Now that the legislators have been sworn in, the next step is to form the Council of Legislative Administration (CAL) and the 13 permanent commissions that work to propose new bills and pass new laws.

With an absolute majority, Correa's government seeks to first pass a controversial communications law that is pending in congress and that calls for the creation of a council to oversee media content and sanction violations.

The government also seeks to approve laws governing land and water, to standardize the use of these resources in communities, as well as an Integral Penal Code.

Correa, who begins his third four-year term on May 24, has said PAIS' majority will make it easier to govern, after years of " obstructionism and boycott" by opposition lawmakers prevented his previous administrations from undertaking major reforms.

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