“Just as I returned power to the people, today the people have the power to elect the new authorities.” The president of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, said he preferred a first-round election to succeed him in power, by casting his vote in Guayaquil, the first city in the country in economic matters although it is not the capital. “I want the people’s decision to be known today and respected in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility in order to attend to the most denouncing problems of the Ecuadorian people,” added the president.
After just over two years, Lasso will have to hand over power in a couple of months to whoever will finally succeed him to complete the term for which he had been elected. In May, the president decreed the “cross death” by dissolving Congress and calling early general elections.
During the day this Sunday the challenge was the automated vote, after reports of telematic problems for voting abroad. From Peru, for example, Fabián Salazar denounced that the links were down.
The National Electoral Council admitted some “one off” issues and pointed out that they were due to the high demand of voters abroad. The president of the CNE, Diana Atamaint, indicated that “we guarantee that these inconveniences will be overcome in a particular way and we guarantee that at the end of the day all Ecuadorians will be able to exercise their right to vote.” She claimed that the technicians were taking care of restoring all the channels.
Until late afternoon, the electoral observation mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) deployed in Ecuador reported full normalcy in face-to-face voting. The head of the group, Panamanian Isabel de Saint Malo, said in Quito that she indicated that they were “satisfied” with the reports of her observers deployed in 20 provinces of the country.
The former Vice President and Foreign Minister of Panama stressed that even in the most violent and conflictive areas of the country, polling stations were set up normally and people participated early. De Saint Malo, who also led the OAS electoral observation mission for Ecuador’s 2021 general elections, acknowledged that the increase in violence and political crimes characterized this call.
The institution reported that election day began with the installation of all 40,714 voting centers without problems. During the first two hours of the process, the CNE stated that 20% of the registered population had already participated.
On the other hand, the National Police of Ecuador reported that during this day of voting has managed to capture more than 300 people in the middle of special operations which began on Friday the 18th.
The police force determined the most conflictive areas of Ecuador, and where surveillance would be more complex. There, the authorities affirmed, special action and security strategies would be carried out. The provinces with the highest risk index for outbreaks of violenceaccording to the institutions, are Manabí, Esmeraldas, Los Ríos, Guayas, Santa Elena, Santo Domingo and Pichincha. After noon on Sunday, no incidents had been reported.
The presidential candidates, however, focused their messages on the electoral response to the violence unleashed in the country, and even Atamaint called for voting to condemn it. “May the exercise of our rights be our best defense against those who seek to take away our peace and sow fear through violence. May each one’s vote be a symbol of peaceful coexistence, progress and rationality,” she wished.
Christian Zurita, the candidate of the Construye movement that replaced the assassinated Fernando Villavicencio, voted with a bulletproof vest and helmet surrounded by a large security operation, in Quito. He was covered by a protective shield when he was at the polling station.
He could barely say “we are up to the task. We are going to face with determination what it means to move this country forward“, he said before being removed from the place.
the indigenista Yaku PerezFor his part, he highlighted the importance of the plebiscite on the extraction of hydrocarbons in an important deposit in the Amazon and to prohibit mining in the Chocó Andino area, classified as a biosphere reserve by Unesco. “I don’t have a bulletproof vest, what I have is an anti-corruption, anti-crime vest,” he said after voting.
For his part, the candidate known as “Rambo”, Jan Topicvoted in Guayaquil affirming that the most important thing will be “Eradicate violence”. The candidate Luisa González, of the Citizen Revolution led from exile by former President Rafael Correa, was confident that she would emerge as the winner of the first round.
The Ecuadorian elections took place in the middle of an extensive national security operation, with checks at the doors of the voting centers, fenced streets and street vendors far from the sites. Uniformed soldiers tried to prevent people from accumulating in the enclosures and ordered those who had already voted to leave quickly.