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Ecuador's President Correa sworn to second term

27 may 2013, 10:01
0
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa (L) and Vicepresident Jorge Glass. ©AFP
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa (L) and Vicepresident Jorge Glass. ©AFP
Ecuador's hugely popular leftist president, Rafael Correa, was sworn in to a second term Friday, with energy reform and expanded overseas trade topping his agenda, AFP reports.

Correa, 50, took the oath of office at a ceremony held before the federal legislature attended by various foreign leaders and dignitaries, including Haitian President Michel Martelly, Spain's Crown Prince Felipe and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

For the first time, a woman, the legislature's speaker Gabriela Rivadeneira, administered the oath of office, as she proclaimed that Correa "was legally in possession of the powers of the presidency of the Republic of Ecuador."

The US- and Belgian-educated economist -- an outspoken populist in the mold of his late mentor Hugo Chavez of Venezuela -- has brought stability to a country that went through eight presidents, three of whom were ousted, in the decade before he was first elected in 2006.

Correa won a landslide victory in February's vote, and shortly thereafter won a rare majority in Congress, giving him a strong hand to implement reforms in sectors such as energy, agriculture, mining, justice and the media. He also plans heavy spending on infrastructure and socially-oriented investment.

His approval rating is as high as 86 percent, according to a survey by pollsters Perfiles de Opinion. He has ruled out seeking a third term, however.

Ecuador, a country of some 16 million people that belongs to OPEC but is its smallest member, is heavily dependent on oil revenue, and Correa has said finding more crude is essential to its future.

The country has proven reserves of 7.2 billion barrels but is short on refining capacity. So Correa wants to build a new refinery and has also opened a tender process for 16 tracts of the Amazon with an eye to finding crude.

At the same time, to ease dependence on fossil fuels, he has announced plans to construct eight dams to produce electricity, with an investment of five billion dollars.

Foreign trade is also key. Ecuador posted a trade deficit of $194 million in 2012. Before Correa took office, the foreign ministry handled the issue, but Correa took away that brief and created a ministry just to boost trade.

Other heads of state who attended Correa's swearing-in included Chavez successor Nicolas Maduro and leaders from Colombia, Bolivia, and Chile.

Correa said this week that he will not run for another term in 2017, even if his party does not have a strong candidate to replace him.

He said he will move to Belgium, where his wife Anne Malherbe is from, so as not to overshadow whoever that candidate turns out to be.

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