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Ecuadorean Interior Minister Replaced

Ecuadorean President Alfredo Palacio has replaced Interior Minister Mauricio Gandara, who has been widely criticized for mishandling protests last month.

A presidential spokesman said Thursday that Foreign Trade Minister Oswaldo Molestina would replace Mr. Gandara. No explanation was given for the move.

Lawmakers this week have been calling for a vote to censure Mr. Gandara over the protests that shut down the nation's two largest oil-exporting regions.

The government was forced to declare a state of emergency in the regions of Orellana and Sucumbios after demonstrators damaged oil installations.

The protesters agreed to end the action, after oil companies pledged to carry out demands for more investment in poor communities near oil facilities.