Ecuador: Lasso no longer wants the massive count of v …

From Quito

Ecuador lives hours of troubled rivers and speculation. What seemed clear on Friday afternoon was no longer clear on Sunday night, or at least it seems so. That Friday afternoon took place a pact between the second in the elections on February 7, Guillermo Lasso, the third, Yaku Pérez, the National Electoral Council (CNE) and the Organization of American States (OAS).

There, without the presence of any other candidate, they agreed to count the votes in 17 provinces of the country: 100% in Guayas and 50% in the others, for a total of about six million votes, in a process of about 15 days that should start this Tuesday. The latter was explained on Saturday afternoon by the president of the CNE, Diana Atamaint, that is, a day after the brief announcement about the count announced without details.

On Saturday afternoon, the recognition of Luis Almagro, secretary of the OAS, remembered for his central role in the coup in Bolivia in 2019, and of the United States government, through the acting undersecretary of the Office, had already taken place. of Western Hemisphere Affairs of the State Department, Julie Chung, who affirmed that the CNE’s decision would allow an “improvement of the guarantees for candidates and citizens.”

The scenario of a recount pact was, however, under question when Lasso published a letter on Sunday afternoon addressed to Atamaint. There in a change of position, He urged the CNE to “proclaim the results of the first electoral round”, pointed out the supra-legal nature of the agreement and the danger that the electoral power would fall into “illegal and even criminal acts”, affirmed that the vote count should be in seven provinces instead of the 17 initially agreed upon, and pointed out that Pérez could be trying to “forge a fraud.” with the counting process.

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The letter was followed by an exchange of accusations between Pérez and Lasso on social networks, where the latter accused again of “attempted fraud and chaos to democracy.” The Pachakutik candidate, for his part, accused Lasso of wanting to carry out a fraud: “with what moral authority do you aspire to be president if you commit fraud, first you say open the polls because whoever ‘owes nothing, fears nothing’ and now do not open the polls, fraud after fraud, a mockery of the CNE, the OAS and the people of Ecuador ”.

The change in situation, added to the lack of clarity offered by the electoral power, Thus, it threw a picture of confusion that, on Monday, added a new element: the announcement of a mobilization for Tuesday by the Confederation of Peoples of the Kichwa Nationality of Ecuador (Ecuarunari) -of which Pérez was president between 2013 and 2019, when he won the governorship of Azuay- due to the “retraction of Mr. Lasso” expressed on Sunday.

“We will mobilize in the territories and we will walk to the city of Quito to defend the interests of the 18 million Ecuadorians (…) if we have to fight we have to fight, if we have to go to jail we will go to jail, if they kill us we will be assassinated, but never on their knees, “said Carlos Sucuzhañay, president of Ecuarunari, which is part of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE).

In this way the scenario went from an anti-correista pact, a shared objective between Pérez and Lasso as they affirmed in the same meeting on Friday, to a difference between the candidates with, in turn, tensions in the CONAIE itself, where certain sectors were opposed to an “agreement with the right (…) that would be illegitimate and inconsistent with the bases.”

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One question, which has remained since Sunday night, has been: Why did Lasso backtrack on Friday’s deal? Was it due to internal pressure, for example, from your allies in the Christian Social Party? A real chance of losing your second position at the end of the count? The answers to this question seem to be the keys to understanding how the electoral conflict in Ecuador may evolve.

There is also another element on the agenda of the contest: the recent visit to Quito by the Colombian Prosecutor, Francisco Barbosa, who, at the request of the Ecuadorian Prosecutor, Diana Salazar, brought what he called “information” on the financing from the Colombian National Liberation Army (ELN) to Andrés Arauz’s campaign. The visit of the Colombian Prosecutor, related to the party of President Iván Duque, Centro Democrático, led by Álvaro Uribe, raised alarm signals about the existence of possible maneuvers to prevent Arauz from participating in the April 11 ballottage.

“Those who have co-governed the country with Lenín Moreno want to cling to power, that’s why they have tried, through anti-democratic means, to disqualify our candidacy, now, with lies, they want to pressure the justice system for a new episode of persecution (…) This hoax has only one intention: to prevent the Arauz-Rabascall binomial that leads the electoral preference from participating in the second round, ”said Arauz this Monday.

The next few days could be marked by new news and changes, within the framework of a presidential election in a country marked by persecution via lawfare on the citizen’s revolution, an institutionally questioned transversally, the interference of international actors, and an oscillation between the attempt of anti-correista electoral pacts -with possible projections to government plans- and sudden turns -at least on the surface- like the one that occurred on Sunday.

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