QUITO, Ecuador -- Former president Lucio Gutierrez holed up in the Brazilian Embassy here yesterday after Brazil offered him political asylum, awaiting a flight into exile as Ecuadorans tried to return to normalcy after a week of street violence and political chaos.
Ecuadoran television showed video of police searching for another former president, Abdala Bucaram Ortiz, a populist nicknamed El Loco, whose recent return from eight years of exile to avoid corruption charges helped spark the current crisis.
But most Quito residents seemed to be trying to resume their normal lives, although several government buildings, including Congress, were left in shambles after rioters set fires and threw rocks and bottles at anything remotely connected to the government. At least two people died in the protests, although some reports put the toll at three.
The US government and the Organization of American States, based in Washington, D.C., were withholding approval for Ecuador's new government, concerned that the way in which Gutierrez was removed may not have been in keeping with the country's constitution.
Congress voted to remove Gutierrez, a former army colonel, and replace him with the vice president, Alfredo Palacio, after a hastily arranged congressional session in a university auditorium Wednesday declared that Gutierrez had ''abandoned his post." Gutierrez had meddled in the Supreme Court on two occasions since December, setting off the firestorm of street protests that eventually brought him down.
Gutierrez remained yesterday in the Brazilian ambassador's residence apparently awaiting transport to exile in Brazil. Ecuadoran police guarded the Brazilian Embassy and residence, but few protesters were evident.
After a meeting between government officials last night, the Ambassador Sergio Florencio Sobrinho of Brazil said Ecuador was not ready to grant permission for Gutierrez to leave the country, the Associated Press reported.
Meanwhile, fear continued to grip some Ecuadoran politicians. Even those who voted to oust the unpopular president seemed to be looking over their shoulders, since they too were attacked by protesters lashing out at virtually the entire national political system.
''People see you on the street and they say, 'You're a politician! You're corrupt!' " Miguel Lopez, a national legislator from the indigenous Pachakutik movement, said as he walked near Congress. Lopez had a white bandage covering a gash on his forehead from a rock that hit him the day before.
Palacio scrambled to take advantage of the slight lull in protests to name five Cabinet ministers. But even as he did, a small group in front of the palace chanted, ''Out with them all!" and ''Out with Congress!"
Aware of the backlash aimed at all government officials, Palacio said late Wednesday that he was not connected to any political party. ''I've come to serve, not serve myself," he said.
The legality of Gutierrez's ouster was one of the key concerns among international observers and foreign governments yesterday. The White House, for instance, declined to say whether it would support Palacio as Ecuador's president. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hinted Washington may push for new elections even though Ecuador's constitution says Palacio should remain in power until early 2007, when Gutierrez's term would have ended.