Indigenous leader Yaku Pérez, who is contesting vote by vote with banker Guilherme Lasso for a second round of the presidential election in Ecuador, denounced Monday (8) an alleged attempt at fraud aimed at excluding him from the race.
With 98.70% of the votes counted, according to the National Electoral Council (CNE), economist Andrés Arauz, political heir to former socialist president Rafael Correa (2007-2017), appears as the winner of the first round, which s ‘is held on Sunday (7), with 32.12% of the vote.
Next come Pérez, with 19.96%, and Lasso, with 19.57%.
“He’s freaking out that we’re going into the second round,” he accused, referring to Correa.
According to Pérez, “the fraud is conspired (…) to prevent us from reaching the second round”.
He says, without providing any evidence, that 15 percentage points of his votes have been shifted to other candidates – no official has proven the irregularities reported so far.
The candidate proposed to open the ballot boxes in the three provinces with the largest electorate, including Pichincha, where the capital Quito is located. Pérez and his fellow party members began a vigil Sunday night outside a Quito hotel where election officials were counting the votes, promising to avoid electoral fraud.
At a commemoration rally in his hometown of Guayaquil, Lasso said a close examination of the inquest’s statements would show he would reach the second round. Under Ecuadorian law, any candidate can request manual recounts.
The counting of the votes is concerning in the country, because in the last presidential election there was a “blackout”, when the counting system went offline and raised doubts as to whether all the votes had been counted.
CNE president Diana Atamaint declared that “every candidate has the right to exhaust all legal proceedings to challenge the results”. “If we have to open the ballot box, we will,” he said.
The CNE said it was reviewing 13.96% of voter registers, which delayed the release of the results. It will therefore be necessary to wait for the count vote by vote.
Atamaint added that he will publish the official results when he has “100% of the minutes analyzed”.
The observation mission of the Organization of American States (OAS), which accompanies the election, asked for calm until the final publication of the figures, because the tally shows a “narrow margin between the candidates who occupy the second and third place “.
The United States has echoed calls for calm when processing election data.
“We ask you to remain calm and be patient as Ecuadorian institutions finish counting the votes and work to resolve conflicts in a peaceful and transparent manner, in accordance with the Ecuadorian Constitution and established rules and processes,” said the spokesperson for the US State Department. , Ned Price.
On Sunday, Ecuadorians went to the polls in an election marked by lines and delayed opening tables inside the country.
As polls have pointed out, leftist Andrés Arauz, sponsored by former president Rafael Correa, secured his place in the second round – scheduled for April 11.
If Yaku Pérez finishes first, Ecuador will have an unprecedented second round among the left-wing candidates. The country, heavily affected by the pandemic, is currently experiencing a further increase in Covid cases and is facing major economic debt due to falling oil prices.
Pérez, who is 50 years old and belongs to the indigenous Kichwa-Kañari ethnic group, has a history of activism in indigenous unions and advocates for a plurinational state that recognizes and values the different ethnic groups that make up the country’s population.
In politics, he was governor of the province of Azuay, whose capital is the historic city of Cuenca, and participated in the 2019 indigenous protests against the adjustment policy of the government of the current president, Lenín Moreno – who , with a 7% approval, did not even attempt to re-elect.
He studied law and did a doctorate at the Catholic University of Cuenca, specializing in indigenous law. In an interview with Folha, he declared that his candidacy “is also that of youth, that of ecology, of forgotten flags […] which are now more important than ever, with the threat of climate change and pandemics ”.
He has already achieved the feat of having the best result ever for an indigenous presidential candidate and opened a dispute that had been defined months ago by the ideological divide between defenders of the free market and socialists.
Arauz, who turned 36 on Saturday (6), is still little known in the country for having lived abroad for a long time. He studied economics at the University of Michigan, United States. Then he returned to Ecuador for his master’s degree at Flacso (Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences).
Recently he was doing his doctorate at Unam (National Autonomous University of Mexico). And because of that, he cannot vote in this election, because his electoral domicile is in Mexico. Born in Quito, he is the son of an oil company executive and a tourist agent.