Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno Seeks to Remove Likely Winner from the 2021 Presidential Ballot

By  |  1 / October / 2020

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Move Draws Widespread Concern for Ecuador’s Democracy Across the Region
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 29, 2020
CONTACT: Lola Allen, +33 7 53 60 89 69, LolaAllen@gmail.comQuito, Ecuador — Ecuador’s Electoral Council will convene imminently to announce its final decision on whether to block the Andrés Arauz–Carlos Rabascall presidential ticket from participating in the 2021 Presidential elections.

President Moreno will not be running for reelection. However, his presidency has been defined by the tireless efforts of his conservative alliance to bar former president Rafael Correa and his political movement from Ecuador’s presidential race.

On August 19, the candidacy of Andrés Arauz for President, with Rafael Correa for Vice President, was announced. But on September 8, ten days before the official registration of candidates for the February elections was due to begin, Correa lost his appeal against an eight-year prison sentence on dubious corruption charges. The court also stripped him of his political rights, including the right to run for office, for 25 years. Correa thus was barred from running for the vice-presidency.

Rafael Correa currently lives in Belgium, his wife’s home country. Until now, the Moreno government and the Ecuadorian justice system have failed to convince Interpol to issue an international arrest warrant, because the charges are not credible.

Two days before the candidate registration period was officially opened, the National Electoral Council announced that it had eliminated four political parties from the register, including Compromiso Social, one of the two political parties backing the Arauz–Correa ticket.

Even in Correa’s absence, recent independent polls suggest that the correista alliance would win in the first round of presidential elections. Polls also predict an Arauz victory in the event of a runoff.

In the last two weeks, Rafael Correa and his supporters have increasingly raised alarms that Ecuador’s electoral authorities were moving to block the Arauz–Rabascall presidential ticket.

Article 104 of Ecuador’s electoral law and Article 14 of the Rules for the Registration of Candidates establish that in the event of a candidate being disqualified after having won the primaries of his political party, the party should replace this candidate within 48 hours. Correistas claim that the electoral authorities seek to nullify the whole ticket, instead of allowing Rabascall to replace Correa.

Sources close to the National Electoral Council say that the Moreno government has exerted pressure on council members to remove the Arauz ticket from the electoral race. A decision on allowing or banning the ticket is expected in the next couple of days.

This week, a renowned conservative political pundit and campaign manager to former Argentine president Mauricio Macri has publicly reproached President Lenin Moreno for prioritizing his fixation with eliminating Correa from the political race over the need to lead Ecuador out of an unprecedented political and economic crisis. Jaime Durán Barba, a long-time friend of Moreno, claimed that he advised the president “to dedicate himself to finding solutions to the problems of the people, and to forget the persecution of Rafael Correa. He did the reverse. He barred Correa from competing in elections, but he is the most unpopular president on the continent. The person leading the polls is Correa’s candidate…”

On September 24 and 29, protestors gathered in Quito to oppose attempts to remove the Arauz ticket from the 2021 electoral race.

On September 19, thirteen former presidents expressed their “deep concern over the decisions taken by the Ecuadorian electoral authorities to ban the movement of the Citizens’ Revolution [the correista ticket] from the ballot.” On September 13, the Grupo de Puebla — a broad alliance of progressive Latin American political leaders — warned Ecuador’s electoral authorities that “barring the Arauz–Rabascall candidacy from the electoral race amounts to fraud and will incur serious legal consequences and international responsibility.” “We demand the right of the Ecuadorian people to elect their representatives,” they added.

Ecuador’s former Foreign Minister Guillaume Long tweeted that “Blocking the likely winners [in the February 2021 presidential elections] will not merely violate the law, it will turn Ecuador into a dictatorship and cause chaos and conflict for years to come.”