Ecuador’s government representatives and the country’s indigenous groups will hold their first direct talks on Sunday in a bid to end days of violent protests.
Protesters are demanding the return of fuel subsidies which the government scrapped as part of austerity measures.
Reports suggest that President Lenín Moreno has agreed to reassess the subsidies, but not necessarily repeal them.
Nearly two weeks of unrest has left the capital, Quito in chaos.
On Saturday, President Moreno asked the military to impose curfew in Quito and surrounding areas.
“I’ve ordered the joint command of the armed forces to immediately take steps necessary to re-establish order in all of Ecuador,” Moreno said in a televised press address.
The army imposed a 24 hour restriction of movement, all this amidst the two-month national emergency.
The UN, in a statement on Twitter said talks between the two sides would take place in Quito.
The group CONAIE had previously rejected calls for the talks but agreed on the condition that they be broadcast and not held behind closed doors.
On Saturday a television station and a newspaper office was attacked. No injuries were reported.
In another incidents masked men threw petrol bombs at a government building in Quito housing the comptroller general’s office and then overran it. The government arrested 30 members.
Decoding the unrest:
Protests began after the government announced an end to fuel subsidies as part of public spending cuts agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in return for a loan. The deal reached in March will allow Ecuador to borrow $4.2bn.
Moreno has said the fuel subsidies, introduced in the 1970s with an annual cost of $1.3bn, were no longer affordable. Eliminating them is part of his plan to shore up Ecuador’s flagging economy and ease its debt burden.
Petrol prices soared and thousands took to the streets. In recent days, they set up barricades, stormed buildings and clashed with security forces.
Some have also called for the resignation of the president.
Indigenous-led protests have toppled three presidents in the past few decades.
Source : Various