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Ecuador: Judicial Manoeuvers of the Electoral Council Jeopardize Elections. By Marco Teruggi

Next April 11 will be the second round of the presidential elections in Ecuador. Andres Arauz, first at the polls last February 7, and Guillermo Lasso, are touring the country with different social, economic, and political actors. The campaign will officially begin next Tuesday, however, there are still some threats, very close to a decisive election.

One of these was the call of Yaku Perez, who came third in the race, for the intervention of the Armed Forces in the electoral process, claiming that there has been fraud. The candidate for the Pachakutik party publicly asked for a constitutional pronouncement to replace all members of the National Electoral Council (CNE), to declare null the first electoral round, to have an intervention of the Comptroller’s Office and the Prosecutor’s Office in the computer systems of the electoral power.

Perez also asked the Prosecutor’s Office to issue a sentence on the denunciation presented by the Colombian Prosecutor’s Office about an alleged campaign financing of the National Liberation Army (ELN) to Arauz’s campaign, that is to say, that the winner of the first round be criminalized within the framework of an international operation denounced as false by numerous international voices, particularly from Colombia. The interests to torpedo a possible victory of Arauz are numerous on the part of the Colombian government, in the hands of the party of Alvaro Uribe – who campaigned in favor of Donald Trump in the last US elections.

The words of the Pachakutik candidate were denounced as a call for a coup d’état by numerous political actors inside and outside the country. Perez, later sought to deny this and stated “I am not asking for military intervention to affect democracy in Ecuador, my request is for the public forces to guarantee that the ballot boxes remain intact, until they open and demonstrate transparency”.

His call to the Armed Forces evidenced the movement of subterranean plots that seek to alter the forthcoming election of April 11 by different means. Together with this alarm, there was the declaration of the president of the NEC, Diana Atamaint, who stated on Friday that she had “serious concern for the fulfillment of the electoral calendar”. The situation, as she explained, is due to the fact that they are “waiting on what the Contentious Electoral Tribunal (TCE) will do within the next few days, which are crucial for the country”.

Atamaint asserted that the situation is “in the hands of the TCE”, a situation resulting from the fact that the Tribunal accepted Perez’s appeal request last Monday, asking for the recount of more than 20,000 tally sheets, so it will have to decide whether or not this recount should be carried out or not. The decision taken by the EDT was preceded by the diffusion of photographs of what was a night meeting in a private building between Perez and one of the members of the Tribunal, Angel Torres.

NEC had already recounted 31 of the total number of votes requested by the Pachakutik candidate, which had not modified the result of the first round. However, the acceptance by EDT, with 15 days to pronounce once the request was accepted, left the electoral contest with an element in suspense.

Meanwhile, Arauz and Lasso continue their activities around the country and through social networks, and the other political forces positioned themselves before the ballottage. Thus, Xavier Hervas, of the Democratic Left party, fourth in the elections, affirmed that he will not form an alliance with either of the two candidates, modifying his initial position which was a call to form a front with Perez and Lasso against Arauz.

On the other hand, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAI), whose political instrument is the Pachakutik party, resolved to promote the “ideological null vote” for the second round, and to demand the TCE to “recount the votes”. The decision was taken in the Enlarged Council of the movement, crossed by numerous debates, such as the relationship between CONAIE and Pachakutik, as well as the internal tensions between sectors seeking alliances to the right, such as Perez himself, and those defending a leftist position, such as the leader Leonidas Iza.

With the decisions announced by Hervas and CONAIE-Pachakutik, the possibility of forming an electoral alliance against Arauz is excluded, at least in public. This had been raised by different actors, including Lasso himself in his initial rapprochement with Perez, appealing to the correismo/anti-correismo cleavage, constructed as a device by the right wing to divide national politics, and used as a reason by sectors of the indigenous movement to defend rapprochements with those who, even if they are right wing, oppose a candidacy of the Citizen Revolution.

The second round will then be a dispute between Arauz and Lasso, each representing different political, economic, social and geopolitical models. The former, with a progressive and Latin American proposal, supported by presidents such as Alberto Fernandez and leaders such as Pepe Mujica, the latter, with a neo-liberal project aligned to the US foreign policy, a position that is clear due to his background in private banking and politics, although his current campaign tries to present him under another facet.

The uncertainty about possible decisions by the country’s institutions, particularly the Attorney General’s Office and the TCE, in the framework of four years marked by the political persecution against the leadership of the Citizen Revolution, causes levels of concern over the election that have been constant since the very moment of the registration of Arauz’s candidacy.

source and Translation by Internationalist 360°

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