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Ecuador's Vice President Sworn in As President


Ecuadorean lawmakers have sworn in Vice President Alfredo Palacio as president, shortly after voting to fire President Lucio Gutierrez.

Mr. Palacio took the oath of office Wednesday in Quito, after 60 lawmakers in the 100-seat chamber voted to oust President Lucio Gutierrez on the grounds he has abandoned the duties of his office.

The military also withdrew its support for Mr. Gutierrez, who fled the presidential palace by helicopter. Authorities issued an arrest warrant for the former president and shut down airports in the capital and coastal city of Guayaquil to prevent him from leaving the country.

Earlier, busloads of Gutierrez supporters, armed with machetes and guns, tried to drive into the center of Quito, but were blocked by thousands of anti-government protesters.

The opposition had criticized Mr. Gutierrez for packing the Supreme Court with political allies last December. Last week, Mr. Gutierrez dissolved the court amid mounting anti-government protests.

The U.S. State Department has called for dialogue and respect for the rule of law in Ecuador. In a related development, the Organization of American States holds a special session Thursday in Washington to examine Ecuador's political crisis.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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