Quito, Oct 15 (EFE).- Voting centers were open Sunday in Ecuador for the second round of the extraordinary presidential elections, where more than 13.4 million Ecuadorians have been called to the polls to choose between Luisa Gonzalez, an ally of former leftist president Rafael Correa, and the heir to a banana business empire, Daniel Noboa.
Stations will be open from 7am to 5pm local time for voters to elect a successor to the current president, the conservative Guillermo Lasso.
The second round of voting will conclude an election process that has been marked by a worsening security crisis amid a spiral of violence by organized criminal groups that has plagued the country.
The run-up to the election was marred by bloodshed, after presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was gunned down as he left a campaign rally in Quito 11 days before the first round of voting.
The winner of Sunday’s second round will have a short term of about 15 months to complete the 2021-2025 term.
Lasso chose to step down early and force the snap elections by invoking “la muerte cruzada”, a constitutional mechanism to dissolve the National Assembly – which was controlled by a majority led by pro-Correa parties – that was poised to impeach him.
If González, a 45 year-old lawyer with a humble, peasant background, wins, she will become the first woman to win a presidential election.
Noboa, a 35-year-old political heir to one of Ecuador’s wealthiest families, would be the youngest president in the country’s history if he prevails.
A strong deployment of some 100,000 security personnel will hope to guarantee the safety of the vote on Sunday.
Security measures have been reinforced at polling centers in coastal areas associated with violence by organized crime gangs, which has raised the homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants from 5.8 to 25.62, and which this year could even rise to around 40.
More than 300 international observers, including more than 80 from the mission of the Organization of American States (OAS), led by former Vice President and former Foreign Minister of Panama Isabel De Saint Malo, as well as a mission of experts from the European Union (EU), among other international organizations, will help monitor the election. EFE