Ecuador’s President Lasso appoints new Chief of the Armed Forces

Quito, November 15 (Reuters) – Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso has appointed a new chief of the joint command of the armed forces after the former chief resigned after a prison riot that killed dozens of inmates.

The changes in Ecuador’s military command follow recent outbreaks of violence at Penitenciaria del Litoral prison in the southern city of Guayaquil.

Fighting broke out within the prison between criminal groups over the weekend, with 68 prisoners killed and 25 injured, according to the government.

Lasso accepted Vice Admiral Jorge Cabrera’s resignation as chief of the Joint Command of the Ecuadorian Armed Forces and appointed General Orlando Fabian Fuel as his successor, the president’s communications office said in a statement released late Sunday.

He also appointed Luis Burbano as the new commander of the Ecuadorian army, while putting Fausto Cobo, the country’s chief intelligence officer, in charge of the SNAI prison authorities.

In September, the government declared a 60-day state of emergency in Ecuadorian prisons to provide funds to combat violence in the country’s prisons and to facilitate military aid in the prisons.

Lasso has asked the Constitutional Court to let the military into prisons instead of just outside security. The court has said that resolving the prison crisis will require more than temporary emergency measures.

Authorities attribute the wave of violence in prison to competing drug gangs trying to control drug trafficking routes.

Penitenciaria del Litoral is the same prison where 119 inmates were killed in late September during the worst incident of prison violence in the country’s recent history.

Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing from Oliver Griffin; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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