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Ecuador's President Correa will not stand in 2017 election

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa holds books about his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales in Tiquipaya, Bolivia October 12, 2015. REUTERS/David Mercado

QUITO (Reuters) - President Rafael Correa will not stand in the 2017 general election, though his political party will push for constitutional changes allowing indefinite re-election, Ecuador’s National Assembly president said on Wednesday.

Changes to the OPEC nation’s constitution regarding term limits have been debated in the National Assembly since last year and are scheduled for final approval in December.

“We recognise (Correa’s) leadership in a huge national and regional social transformation,” Gabriela Rivadeneira, the National Assembly president and a member of Correa’s political party, told reporters.

“We respect his decision.”

Correa, 52, took office in 2007 and has maintained high levels of popularity since then. However, this year has seen protest break out across the country amid falling oil prices, which make up a large part of the country’s foreign income.

General elections are scheduled for February 2017 and while he will not stand in those, Correa could run in 2021.

Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Girish Gupta; Editing by Sandra Maler