Ecuador’s Lasso won’t be a candidate in snap election

Quito, Jun 2 (EFE).- President Guillermo Lasso said Friday that he will not be a candidate in the early general election triggered by his decision last month to dissolve the legislature.

“Today, after profound reflection, I wish to tell you that I will not accept the nomination for the presidency of the republic for the August elections,” the right-wing billionaire said in a televised address from Carondelet Palace.

“Far above the office of president, I love democracy and the freedom that every Ecuadorian citizen enjoys to pursue his or her dreams, and if my duty as president demands of me that I give up my office to aid and protect democracy, I will do so,” he said.

On May 17, Lasso invoked a legal mechanism known as “muerte cruzada” (mutual death) to put an end to impeachment proceedings in the opposition-controlled National Assembly and give himself authority to rule by decree pending the outcome of early elections.

Lasso, 67, said that instead of running for re-election, he will redouble his efforts to solve Ecuador’s problems during what is left of his truncated term.

“It doesn’t make sense for me to campaign when the country needs me to be dedicated to the citizens, when there are still goals to reach and challenges to overcome,” he said, without indicating who will represent his CREO party in the Aug. 20 election.

Again proclaiming his innocence of the corruption accusations that formed the basis of the impeachment case, Lasso insisted that his motivation for dissolving the legislature was not to avoid trial, but rather to thwart the opposition’s “macabre plan of usurping the institutions.”

Lasso and the present leftist majority in congress were elected in 2021 to four-year terms.

The winners in this year’s special elections will serve the balance of the current mandate and voters will be called to the polls again in 2025.

If no presidential candidate wins a majority on Aug. 20, the top two vote-getters will face each other in an Oct. 15 runoff.

More than half-a-dozen people have joined the race, including announced presidential Those who have thrown their hats in the ring include Yaku Perez, who finished third in 2021, and Daniel Noboa, former lawmaker and son of banana magnate Alvaro Noboa.

The elder Noboa, a five-time failed presidential candidate, posted a video earlier this week announcing that he was running in this year’s contest, but the clip was subsequently scrubbed from the web.

Citizens Revolution (RC), the party of leftist former President Rafael Correa and seen as the country’s strongest political force, has yet to designate a presidential candidate.

RC’s 2021 standard-bearer, Andres Arauz, told EFE last month that making another run for president is not his “personal priority.”

Leonidas Iza, leader of the powerful CONAIE federation of indigenous peoples, said Friday that he was withdrawing as presidential candidate of the federation’s political wing, Pachakutik, due to internal dissension. EFE fgg/dr

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