Ecuador defence minister, armed forces chief sacked

April 10th, 2008 - 4:33 pm ICT by admin  

Quito, April 10 (IANS) Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has sacked the defence minister and the entire military leadership over allegations that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has infiltrated the country’s intelligence set-up. Defence Minister Wellington Sandoval announced his resignation Wednesday at the Presidential Palace and was immediately succeeded by Correa’s personal secretary and leftwing Indigenous Social Movement leader Javier Ponce, EFE reported.

Head of Joint Chiefs of Staff Hector Camacho and Army Commander Guillermo Vasconez also stepped down the same day.

The shake up in the military establishment came after the March 1 Colombian incursion across the border into Ecuadorian jungles into a hideout of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) which killed the outfit’s number two Raul Reyes, 20 guerrillas and an Ecuadorian linked to the insurgents.

Police Commander Bolivar Cisneros also resigned for alleged failures in communication over the killing of the Ecuadorian, Franklin Guillermo Aizalia.

According to media reports, Vice Admiral Livio Espinosa and army commander Jorge Gabela were also due to resign.

New Defence Minister Ponce, in an apparent reference to the CIA, said the total intelligence failure over the Colombian raid did point to an external hand.

“There is an external cooperation that we do not reject, that we do not demonise, but there cannot be intelligence networks acting against our sovereignty,” he said.

Last week, Correa charged that some Ecuadorian military and police officers were on the CIA payroll, passing information to the US and US-ally Colombia before reporting to Ecuadorian authorities.

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