Ecuador: Presidential Elections Set for October
Ecuador's Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE) on July 21 officially called general elections for Oct. 20. Voters will choose a successor to President Gustavo Noboa, who will leave office Jan. 15, 2003. The new president will be elected for a four-year term. With the date for elections officially set, other national concerns are moving to the back burner as the various parties and movements line up their candidates.
In his address, TSE president Carlos Aguinaga called for "popular, direct, and universal elections by secret ballot" to choose a president and vice president. Should no candidate obtain a majority of the votes, a runoff will be held Nov. 24. In addition to the president and vice president, voters will elect deputies to the unicameral Congress and provincial and municipal officials. They will also choose representatives for the Parlamento Andino.
Aguinaga said 8.1 million of Ecuador's 12.2 million people are eligible to vote. Candidates can register until Aug. 20. The campaign will officially begin Sept. 3 and end Oct. 17.
Earlier, the TSE invited the Organization of American States (OAS) to observe the elections. TSE officials said OAS secretary general Cesar Gaviria indicated his support for an OAS mission to act as election observers.
Crowded field of candidates
The office of president has no shortage of aspirants. At least a dozen hopefuls are in the race at this point, including two former presidents.
Former President Rodrigo Borja (1988-1992) announced July 20 that he would be a candidate for the Izquierda Democratica (ID).
Several parties were holding off their decisions on whether to field a candidate pending the decision by former President Leon Febres Cordero (1984-1988) of the Partido Social Cristiano (PSC). Febres Cordero sent a message from Miami on July 22 that, because of health problems, he would not run. He gave his support to Xavier Neira.
Former President Osvaldo Hurtado (1981-1984) will run on the Movimiento Patria Solidaria ticket. His running mate will be Gloria Gallardo.
Former President Abdala Bucaram (Aug. 1996-Feb. 1997), who had toyed with returning to Ecuador from exile in Panama to run again, said that, given his legal problems in Ecuador, he would not be the PRE candidate (see NotiSur, 1997-05-03).
After Bucaram opted not to run, the PRE held a meeting in Panama in which it named Jacobo Bucaram, the former president's brother, as its presidential candidate. His running mate will be Marco Proano.
Lucio Gutierrez, a former colonel who was among the leaders of the January 2000 protests that toppled the government of Jamil Mahuad (1998-2000), will run representing the Sociedad Patriotica, a coalition of center-left groups and the indigenous Pachacutik movement (see NotiSur, 2000-01-28).
Antonio Vargas, former president of the Confederacion de Nacionalidades Indigenas de Ecuador (CONAIE), will also be a candidate. He has the support of various Amazon indigenous groups, which will split the indigenous vote.
Luis Villacis of the Movimiento Popular Democratico and president of the Frente Popular, which includes unions, campesinos, students, and small business groups, will be a candidate for the left.
The Democracia Popular (DP), which carried Mahuad to victory in 1998, has not yet chosen its candidate. It is considering endorsing Foreign Minister Heinz Moeller who will run on the Union Nacional (UNO) ticket. …