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Ecuador protestors occupy parliament after Moreno flees

ECUADORIAN protesters have occupied the country’s Parliament a day after President Lenin Moreno fled the capital Quito amid growing demands for his resignation.

Anti-government demonstrators stormed the building after as many as 20,000 indigenous people angry over International Monetary Fund-imposed austerity measures marched to the capital.

Police swooped and fired tear gas as they tried to clear the empty congress building, but protesters remained defiant.

Mr Moreno’s government imposed a curfew which will be in place from 8pm until 5am around key state installations and government buildings as well as airports and oil refineries.

They have been targeted by protesters after a rise in fuel prices following last weeks scrapping of subsidies.

Transport workers took strike action in response and were soon joined on the streets by other workers, students and indigenous people.

The action paralysed the country, with road blocks and a lack of public transport inflicting further damage on its already weak economy.

State oil company Petroecuador warned that as many as 165,000 barrels of oil, or nearly a third of total production, could be lost each day if the unrest continues.

Moreno has remained defiant in the face of clashes which have escalated after he imposed a state of emergency. Protesters warn of violence from state forces with tanks patrolling the streets of Quito and other cities.

He was forced on Monday to flee the capital with his administration relocating to the port city of Guayaquil.

The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, the country’s biggest indigenous group, accused Mr Moreno’s government of failing to improve the welfare of Ecuador’s “most vulnerable” people.

“We have shown throughout Ecuador’s history that indigenous peoples have the power to shut down the country when our rights are put at risk and power is abused,” indigenous groups said in a statement.

It added: “Protests across Ecuador since October 3 have caused nationwide disruption, with demonstrations and road blockages in many provinces.”

Officials reported that the number of arrests had risen to 570 today including supporters of former president Rafael Correa, who Moreno claimed was behind the protests, along with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Mr Correa dismissed the allegations.

“They are such liars … They say I am so powerful that with an iPhone from Brussels I could lead the protests,” he said, holding up his mobile.

“People couldn’t take it any more, that’s the reality,” he said.

But a government statement said: “There are groups bent on causing chaos and confrontation, endangering democratic order.”

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