Indigenous protesters in Ecuador demand recount of presidential vote Election news

Hundreds of protesters supporting presidential candidate Yaku Perez are calling for a recount outside the offices of the electoral council in Quito.

Hundreds of indigenous protesters gathered outside Ecuadorian electoral council offices in the capital Quito on Tuesday to demand a recount of this month’s presidential vote.

Yaku Perez, a third-place indigenous environmental activist, has traveled the country denouncing what he calls the manipulation of poll statements.

The National Electoral Council (CNE) said on Sunday that the final results of the Feb. 7 poll showed right-wing candidate Guillermo Lasso secured 19.74 percent support to narrowly edged Perez, who took 19.39 percent.

Lasso, a former banker, will face Andres Arauz, a protégé of former President Rafael Correa, in a presidential runoff in April. Arauz won the first round with 32.72% of the vote.

Protesters arrived on Tuesday by bus in southern Quito, carrying the flag of Pachakutik, the party of the Ecuadorian indigenous movement that supports Perez.

Ecuadorian presidential candidate Yaku Perez gestures as indigenous supporters gather outside the National Electoral Council in Quito on February 23 [Santiago Arcos/Reuters]

They gathered in a park and shouted slogans such as “transparency yes, fraud no”.

“We are going to give the National Electoral Council one last chance,” Perez said at the rally. “This fraud cannot go unpunished, no one can hide it.”

He then took boxes containing more than 16,000 poll statements which he said showed inconsistencies for the CNE.

Candidates can file objections or challenge the results of the vote before the electoral council or the electoral tribunal.

Perez had wanted a recount in 17 of Ecuador’s 24 provinces, which would have involved around six million ballots – around 45% of the country’s registered voters.

Perez is known for his opposition to mining and his support for better environmental protection.

“Yaku is a leader and a worker like us, he walks with us,” Rosa Salinas, 58, told Reuters news agency at the rally in Quito.

“We want transparency, we don’t want politicians to cheat on us,” Salinas said.

This month’s election took place in the middle widespread discontent and an economic crisis made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lasso promised to cut taxes and create a million jobs by attracting international investment, especially in oil and mining.

Arauz has vowed to return to Correa’s socialist policies and pledged to donate $ 1,000 to one million Ecuadorian families who suffered during the pandemic.

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