Ecuador prepares for 2nd round of presidential voting in October

Ecuador prepares for 2nd round of presidential voting in October

Leftist Luisa Gonzalez, millionaire Daniel Noboa to contest run-off in Latin American country plagued by violence, corruption

By Laura Gamba

BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) – Ecuador is headed for a presidential election runoff in October between leftist candidate Luisa Gonzalez and former lawmaker and businessman, Daniel Noboa, after the early results of Sunday’s election failed to present a winner.

Two ideologically opposed candidates will contest the votes to lead the once very peaceful Latin American country that is now plagued by violence, corruption, and insecurity.

With 85% of the votes counted, Citizen Revolution Party candidate, Gonzalez, an ally of exiled former president Rafael Correa, is winning the race with 33% of the votes. That was short of the level needed to win outright.

“Thank you, dear Ecuador, for this civic victory! We continue in this struggle, in which you have already given us a first victory and there will be a great and definitive second victory,” Gonzalez said.

She is followed by millionaire Noboa, who is coming in second with 24% of the votes. He is the son of banana businessman and politician Alvaro Noboa, who in 2006 lost in the second round to Correa.

Noboa, who was a big surprise because he appeared at the bottom of the polls of eight candidates, said in a speech that he is not going to form a coalition against Correa´s movement.

Voting appeared to have been peaceful despite the crisis of insecurity, violence, and corruption in the country.

The assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio on Aug. 9, made it very clear that the country has been taken over by drug cartels.

Villavicencio, a former journalist, was outspoken about the links between organized crime and government officials. Mexican and Colombian drug cartels have infiltrated local gangs in Ecuador as they fight for control of the lucrative drug trade.

Although voting in Ecuador is mandatory for those aged between 18 and 64, authorities feared that turnout could be affected because of people's fears of leaving their homes. The electoral authority said that at least 82% of Ecuadorians went out to vote.

“We congratulate the Ecuadorian people because they were brave because they made the decision to confront violence and go out to vote massively with an 82% participation rate," said Diana Atamaint, President of the National Electoral Council of Ecuador.

More than 100,000 police and soldiers were deployed during the day to ensure that people were able to vote.

The atypical elections were prompted after Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso issued a decree dissolving the opposition-controlled legislature a day after it opened an impeachment trial accusing Lasso of having been aware that his close associates were involved in a corruption scheme stealing funds from state companies.

The winner of the Oct. 15 runoff will govern for the remaining 18 months of Lasso's term.

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