Ecuador’s president has temporarily moved government operations from the capital Quito to the port city of Guayaquil amid protests sparked by the end of fuel subsidies.
In a television address, President Lenin Moreno said he would not back down on the fuel price hike and accused his opponents of attempting a coup.
In his speech on Monday evening, Mr Moreno said the protests were “not a manifestation of social discontent in protest of a government decision”.
“The lootings, vandalism and violence show there is an organised political motive here to destabilise the government, and break the constitutional order, break democratic order,” he argued.
He said his predecessor and former ally turned arch rival, Rafael Correa, and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro were behind the “destabilisation plan”.
Meanwhile BBC reports that the Social Commitment political movement, which is led by Mr Correa, released a statement rejecting the president’s accusations.
Mr Moreno said the decision to move the government seat was made in accordance with his constitutional powers.
Mr Moreno’s announcement last week of an end to subsidies that had been holding down fuel prices triggered a strike by transport unions.
They have since stopped their action, but protests have continued. Indigenous demonstrators have blocked roads and highways in the country and thousands have travelled to the capital Quito ahead of large protests planned for Wednesday.
The unrest has resulted in clashes with security forces, while some of the road blockages have affected petrol deliveries, leading to fuel shortages in parts of the country.