Ecuador nixes vote on Yasuni oil drilling

Ecuador's government on May 6 turned down a petition for a referendum on plans to open Yasuni National Park to further oil exploration. The National Electoral Council determined that not enough signatures were collected—a claim rejected by the group Yasunidos, which led the drive. Electoral authorities validated 359,781 of the 850,000 signatures collected, well under the 583,323 needed under Ecuadoran law. The electoral council said it found numerous duplicate or otherwise invalid signatures. "Almost seven out of 10 signatures were thrown in the bin," Yasunidos said on its Twitter feed. "The council talks about irregularities. We talk about fraud." Yasunidos vowed to take its complaint to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. (Plan V, Ecuador, May 7 via UDWBBC News, May 6)