South American leaders envision democratic charter

South American leaders plan to create a democratic charter that would serve as a guide for their 12-nation bloc if any of them face an attempted coup, Guyana's foreign minister said Wednesday ahead of a regional summit.

The charter was proposed after a Sept. 30 police revolt in Ecuador that President Rafael Correa said was an attempt to overthrow him.

"We have to recommit ourselves to democracy in South America," Foreign Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett told The Associated Press.she said.

Rodrigues-Birkett spoke before a group of presidents including Correa, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva are expected to arrive in Guyana for a summit of the Union of South American Nations, or UNASUR.

Correa is expected to describe the revolt in which about a dozen people died and 270 were wounded. The uprising was led by police upset over a new law that would deny them promotion bonuses.

Correa and other leaders also are expected to talk about their vision for the proposed charter. The Organization of American States has its own "Inter-American Democratic Charter" to address coup threats. It was not clear how the new charter would differ from that: details have not been released.

UNASUR was created in May 2008 to serve as a continental parliament and defense union that Chavez has described as a counterweight to the United States. Some members of the OAS see UNASUR as a complement to the Washington-based organization, while others view it as a potential replacement.

Former Argentine President Nestor Kirchner, who died last month, was UNASUR's first leader.

A replacement has not been named, although Rodrigues-Birkett said nominations will be considered during the summit.