By Marco Teruggi – February 22, 2021
The Comptroller’s Office and the Prosecutor’s Office will carry out audits of the vote, denounced as State “interference in the electoral process” by correísmo.
The Ecuadorian electoral process is marked by uncertainties, disputes, and threats. This Sunday at 3 a.m., two weeks after the vote, the National Electoral Council (CNE) finally announced the results of the first round. As was known, Andrés Arauz won, with 32.70% of the total, and Guillermo Lasso was pronounced second, with 19.74%.
In that same session, the refusal of the request presented by the third party, Yaku Pérez, to recount the votes in 17 provinces, was ratified again. The electoral authority only accepted the review of 26 minutes in Guayas and Los Ríos, “whose inconsistencies were physically presented at the Public Hearing of Scrutinies.”
The proclamation, which should bring clarity regarding the results questioned only by Pérez, occurred, however, in the midst of two new situations. First, the Comptroller’s Office requested on Saturday that a computer audit be carried out before the runoff occurs on April 11. Secondly, that same afternoon the Prosecutor’s Office requested the digital content of the CNE database to carry out a verification of it.
The Prosecutor’s Office explained in a statement on Sunday that the action was carried out “within a previous investigation for alleged electoral fraud,” based on Pérez’s complaints, in which they asked the National Court of Justice to authorize “the registration and retention of information.” This authorization from the Court’s judge arrived on Saturday, almost simultaneously with the request of the Comptroller’s Office, and a few hours before the announcement of the results by the CNE.
Although the Office of the Prosecutor affirmed that “the proceedings were coordinated with the presidency of the CNE,” the president of the electoral power, Diana Atamaint, recorded a message hours before in which she stated: “We hope that the efforts of the Comptroller’s Office will focus on fighting corruption and that they do not echo the political forces that want to take the CNE by storm. We ask that the institutions and their authorities do not play the game and become political actors who promote their interests in the current electoral process.”
Faced with the events that occurred, the Union for Hope (UNES) coalition, running the correísta Arauz as its candidate, filed a complaint with the Electoral Contentions Tribunal against the Attorney General, Diana Salazar, and the Comptroller, Pablo Celi, for “interference in the electoral process.” The candidate also held a press conference to denounce the events: “we reject the interference… of other State institutions in the electoral function.”
Arauz denounced that after the requests for audits there were threats and intentions that the electoral calendar be modified, which sets the start of the campaign for March 16 and the second round for April 11. “We demand that… recounts are made within the framework of the law and do not imply any excuse to modify the electoral calendar,” said Arauz.
Complaints about possible attempts to modify the electoral schedule were also expressed by Atamaint, who stated that “the electoral calendar that leads to the second round has not changed.” In the preliminary report delivered by the Organization of American States (OAS) on Sunday, the body called on “the electoral authorities” to “comply with the electoral calendar.” The OAS, which recognized the electoral results, also indicated its “concern” over the fact that “other public entities or authorities intend to assume functions that may affect the powers of electoral bodies and the election itself.”
Thus, instead of a clear electoral scenario with the results announced after two weeks of voting, the latest events added greater concerns about various attempts to interfere. Ecuadorian institutions, marked by the years of lawfare against the citizens’ revolution, once again showed their lack of transparency and, consequently, of trust.
Yaku Pérez, in turn, together with a sector of the indigenous movement, is leading a mobilization towards the CNE, in Quito, where he will demonstrate against what he still denounces as fraud. The arrival in the capital will be, according to the announcements, on Tuesday. Pérez, who in the first instance had reached an agreement with Lasso to count the votes, now finds himself in what appears to be political isolation, and with little chance of making progress in his attempts to challenge the results.
The elections in Ecuador, as anticipated from the beginning, have been marked by a succession of irregularities, maneuvers, and last-minute attempts mainly focused on damaging Arauz’s candidacy. The next few days could be decisive in determining whether the country will move towards a second round without setbacks or, on the contrary, whether there will be new twists and turns that add greater suspicions about the institutions and the electoral process.
Featured image: File photo courtesy of PaginaI12.
Translation: Orinoco Tribune