Ecuador’s leader moves government seat as clashes escalate

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

Thousands of indigenous people have converged on Ecuador's capital as anti-government protests led the president to move out of Quito.

Moreno's declaration of a state of emergency failed to deter the advance of indigenous protesters who have repeatedly clashed with security forces on their journey to the capital from the far reaches of the country. Once inside they waved flags and chanted slogans before being forced back by security forces using tear gas. The clashes injured 19 civilians and 43 police officers, authorities said.

"Under no circumstance", Moreno said in an interview with domestic TV channel Teleamazonas late on Tuesday.

Hence, with Moreno fearing more disruptions in Quito, he made a decision to move government business and operations to Guayaquil.

In a written decree on Tuesday, Moreno ordered that authorities restrict movement close to government buildings and strategic installations between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.to keep order.

Government open to foreign mediation Ecuador's government said on Tuesday it would be open to mediation via the United Nations or the Catholic Church, after nearly a week of anti-austerity protests that have rocked the nation and brought hundreds of arrests. Moreno has received "firm backing" for his handling of the unrest from seven Latin American countries, including Brazil, Argentina and Peru, according to Peru's foreign ministry.

Ecuador's government has agreed to cut public spending as part of a loan deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Almost 600 people have been arrested, authorities say, including a legislator who supports Moreno's predecessor Rafael Correa. Police have deployed armored vehicles and water cannon. Moreno's secretary, Juan Roldan, also said that 570 people have been arrested due to the protests.

Moreno would move his administration out of Quito Tuesday to the port city of Guayaquil, alleging that he'd been targeted by a coup attempt and pointing a finger at his predecessor, Correa, for trying to destabilize the country.

Speaking in Belgium, where he lives in self-imposed exile, Correa scoffed at the accusation.

"They are such liars".

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

Indigenous protesters played a major role in the 2005 resignation of Ecuador's president at the time, Lucio Gutierrez, though the military's tacit approval was key to his removal.

Oil production fell 31 percent following the outbreak of social unrest last week and the subsequent seizure of three oil facilities in the Amazon, the energy ministry said Tuesday.

The unrest has affected oil output in the OPEC member.

"The lootings, vandalism and violence show there is an organised political motive here to destabilise the government, and break the constitutional order, break democratic order", he argued.

Dialogue was necessary, it added, citing possible measures to compensate for higher fuel prices, such as credit lines for farmers and transport cooperatives.

As people continue to stream into Quito to take part in the demonstrations, now in their sixth day, the protesters are gearing up for a general strike on Wednesday, hoping to compel the government to act on demands to reconsider the austerity measures. Ecuador is among dozens of nations calling for Maduro's ouster.

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