Quito: Just days before the hotly-anticipated visit of Pope Francis to Ecuador, the country`s President has come under increasing pressure from opposition protests demanding his ouster.
Thousands demonstrated against President Rafael Correa on Thursday, with clashes with police leaving some people injured.
In power since 2007, Correa has fallen out of favour with many in Ecuador and thousands have demonstrated since June 8 in rejection of his socialist policies, chanting "Out Correa Out."
The embattled leader warned of a coup plot ahead of the protest Thursday. He later appeared on the balcony of the presidential palace to thank supporters while calling for calm ahead of the pope`s visit.
"I apologise to all Ecuadorians, we should be in a period of profound serenity and reflection waiting for His Holiness Pope Francis," Correa said.
The turmoil has so far not altered the pope`s visit to the largely Catholic country. Pope Francis lands Sunday in Quito and is scheduled to be in Ecuador until Wednesday before heading to Bolivia and Paraguay.
The Catholic Church previously said violent demonstrations could alter the pope`s visit.
Correa suspended the legislative process ahead of the pope`s arrival and church leaders have called for calm.
"We believe that the good will of all and the desire of all parties... is the common good. We do not think there is going to be violence," said Cesar Piechestein of the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference.