Mexico grants asylum to Ecuador lawmakers

2 min

Quito (AFP)

Mexico granted political asylum Thursday to four members of Ecuador's opposition holed up in its embassy in Quito since widespread social unrest in October, the foreign ministry said.

The four lawmakers, including former Congress speaker Gabriela Rivadeneira, "took a commercial flight to Mexico" early Thursday, the ministry said in a statement.

Mexico also granted asylum to seven other people, including two former officials in exiled ex-president Rafael Correa's government, a diplomatic source told AFP in Quito.

Ecuador's Foreign Minister Jose Valencia said the four who had taken refuge at the embassy were linked to Correa's party.

"After the violent days of October, a group of activists linked to the RC (Citizen Revolution party) entered the Mexican embassy in Quito and applied for diplomatic asylum to that country," Valencia said.

He said Mexico had informed Ecuador of the decision to grant asylum, and Quito had offered to facilitate the departure of the individuals.

The government "is sure that the conspiracy to attack democracy and the violent events of October will be clarified by justice and those responsible will be sanctioned following due process," Valencia said.

Weeks of violent protests by indigenous groups, during which President Lenin Moreno declared an emergency and deployed troops onto the streets, left several people dead, more than 1,000 injured, and caused widespread destruction to infrastructure.

The protests were sparked by Moreno scrapping fuel subsidies to obtain a $4.2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, a move that caused prices to double.

The head of state accused his predecessor Correa, as well as his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro, of being behind a plan to destabilize his government.

Correa, who served as president from 2007-17, is wanted in his homeland on suspicion of kidnapping and corruption. He has requested asylum from Belgium, where he lives with his family.