Ecuador's Moreno orders curfew, militarization in Quito

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Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno declared curfew and militarization of the Metropolitan District of Quito on Saturday after 10 days of anti-government protests.

"I have ordered the curfew and the militarization of the Metropolitan District of Quito. It will take effect from 3:00 p.m. (2000 GMT)," Moreno tweeted. "This will facilitate the police action against the intolerable excesses of violence."

Shortly after he tweeted, Moreno reaffirmed his decision in a televised address. "I've order the Joint Command of the Armed Forces to take necessary measures and operations immediately."

Moreno said that those behind the acts of violence and vandalism in the protests "are drug traffickers, the criminals, the Latin Kings (the largest gang group in Ecuador), and the correistas (supporters of Ecuador's former President Rafael Correa)."

Moreno thanked indigenous leaders for agreeing to talks.

Ecuador's Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie) earlier said that it would take part in the "direct dialogue" after rejecting Moreno's invitation at first.

"We insist on the need for a direct and public dialogue on Decree 883 for its repeal or revision," Conaie said in a statement.

The government announced the elimination of fuel subsidies on Oct. 1, as part of an austerity package designed to reduce the public deficit in keeping with a 4.2-billion-U.S.-dollar loan deal with the International Monetary Fund.

Following the government's action, gasoline and diesel prices shot up and transport fares rose, prompting indigenous groups, union workers and students to launch a nationwide strike, which sparked violent protests.

Moreno declared a nationwide 60-day state of emergency on Oct. 3 to try to quell the protests with a stepped-up police and military presence, but demonstrations continued to intensify.

According to local media, protesters damaged Ecuador's congressional building and broke into the Comptroller General Pablo Celi's office on Tuesday.

Conaie denied any responsibility for the acts of vandalism, saying "those actions have nothing to do with our base."

The unrest led Moreno to relocate his government to the costal city of Guayaquil.

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