Ecuador indigenous candidate, ex-banker seek vote runoff place

Paola L脫PEZ
·2-min read

Indigenous leader Yaku Perez on Tuesday was in a tight race with ex-banker Guillermo Lasso for the right to be in the April 11 runoff vote in Ecuador's presidential election.

Both Perez and Lasso were behind leftist economist Andres Arauz, who garnered nearly one-third of the vote in the first round of Ecuador's presidential election on Sunday.

Perez, 51, and a large number of supporters demonstrated for the third day straight on Tuesday outside the National Electoral Council in the capital Quito to "protect" his votes, and make sure that "the will of the Ecuadorean people is not distorted."

An environmental attorney, Perez had 20.07 percent of the vote against 19.49 for Lasso. But votes still needed to be counted and disputes resolved.

Arauz, 36, is a protege of Rafael Correa, a leftist two-time president who currently lives in Belgium to evade a conviction for corruption but remains a strong force in the country.

While Arauz is a candidate for the Union of Hope (UNES) coalition of left-wing parties, Perez is from the leftist Pachakutik party, and is the first indigenous candidate to get this far in the presidential race in Ecuador.

Lasso, 65, told supporters in a video on his Twitter account that he was confident he'd make it into the runoff vote stage.

Sunday's vote took place amid a backdrop of economic problems exacerbated by a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed 15,000 lives in Ecuador.

The country's 13.1 million voters are choosing a successor to deeply unpopular President Lenin Moreno -- who chose not to run for re-election -- and the 137 members of congress.

The field had been crowded, with 16 presidential candidates, including Ximena Pena, the only woman.