Ecuador's indigenous converge on capital to protest fuel hikes

People face off soldiers as they block a road during protests after Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno’s government ended four-decade-old fuel subsidies in Lasso Ecuador

People face off soldiers as they block a road during protests after Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno’s government ended four-decade-old fuel subsidies in Lasso Ecuador

Ecuador's president has temporarily moved government operations from the capital Quito to the port city of Guayaquil amid protests sparked by the end of fuel subsidies.

The president faces a stiff challenge from indigenous groups and others who have blocked some roads with stones, tyres and branches.

On Tuesday, protesters broke through police barriers and some entered the empty congress building in Quito.

Some video footage has shown police beating protesters on the ground.

Following tactics that have toppled past governments, thousands of indigenous demonstrators have flooded the highland capital.

"The National Assembly has suspended its activity; yesterday coordinators of various legislative bodies met with the assembly's president and vice-president and chose to suspend the activity as there were no guarantees allowing assemblymen and officials to visit the parliament's building", Castanier said.

Moreno scrapped fuel subsidies as part of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund to obtain loans despite Ecuador's high public debt.

The president said that allies of his predecessor Rafael Correa had infiltrated the demonstrations in a bid to overthrow his government, without providing evidence.

An IMF deal will require the elimination of fuel subsidies, including a reduction of vacation days for public employees, changes to retirement benefits, and lower compensation for some contract workers.

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Speaking in Belgium, where he lives in self-exile, Correa told Reuters the accusation against him was nonsense.

"They are such liars ... They say I am so powerful that with an iPhone from Brussels I could lead the protests", he told the Reuters news agency.

Earlier, Ecuadorian authorities said the nation would leave the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in order to increase crude oil production and raise more cash.

"People couldn't take it anymore, that's the reality", he said, referring to economic belt-tightening measures.

Maduro has yet to respond to the accusation of Venezuelan involvement in Ecuador.

With protesters swarming around Quito, various government buildings were attacked overnight, authorities said, adding to looting, assaults on farms, and the destruction of ambulances and police vehicles in recent days.

Production losses at the state-owned Petroamazonas "will reach 165,000 barrels per day", the ministry said in a statement.

"There are groups bent on causing chaos and confrontation, endangering democratic order", a government statement said. Though he enjoys the support of business and the military, Moreno's popularity has sunk to under 30%, compared with 70% in 2017.

Correa's office rejected the allegations in a statement, while Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, Maduro's US -backed rival, threw his support behind Moreno, accusing Maduro for being responsible for the unrest. Thus, Moreno claims that the "destabilization plan" is based on the intrigues of Correa and Maduro.

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