Quito, Feb 26 (efe-epa).- Ecuadorian police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse hundreds of indigenous protesters on Friday who were demanding a recount of votes of the Feb. 7 election at a rally at the headquarters of the National Electoral Council (CNE).
Eyewitnesses told EFE that the protesters, who hours before had participated in a peaceful march from El Arbolito park, tried to tear down security fences put in place to block the route to the headquarters, which provoked the reaction from the police.
“People were peaceful and they began to move the fences, then disaster broke out. The police on the picket line began to keep back protesters with tear gas, water cannons and to send everyone around,” a witness told EFE.
The protesters were concentrated in front of the Electoral Council from around 2 pm local time (19:00 GMT), after having completed a march from the Arbolito park led by indigenous presidential candidate Yaku Pérez, of the Pachakutik movement.
The march coincided with a meeting of the CNE to analyze Pérez’s claims of alleged fraud in 16,000 of the 40,000 records of the elections on Feb. 7. It is not clear whether the meeting took place.
The preliminary official results gave candidate Andrés Arauz the win, and put conservative Guillermo Lasso in second, so both would theoretically go to the second round on April 11.
Pérez does not accept the result and has asked for the reopening of the polls in 17 of the 24 provinces of the country.
“Yaku hold on, the people are waking up,” “United people will never be defeated,” and “I voted for Yaku, my vote is to be respected,” protesters repeated Friday afternoon while the police intervened.
Several hundred people held plurinational flags, while some indigenous leaders and one of the commanders of the police urged them to “demonstrate peacefully.”
“People keep asking for an answer to the votes. The protesters put stones in the streets so that no one could pass and the police have about 30 horses,” said EFE’s source.
The troops at the scene were being reinforced with more agents on horseback and anti-riot officers. EFE-EPA