Quito, Ecuador, Feb 16 – The Organization of American States on Monday expressed concern about Ecuador’s recent presidential vote, urging the country’s top electoral body to ensure transparency as it conducts a partial recount of the disputed poll.
Ecuador’s National Electoral Council (CNE) said last week it would recount six million votes, representing about 45 percent of those cast in the February 7 presidential election.
One candidate in that poll, indigenous environmental lawyer Yaku Perez, has since alleged fraud.
“The Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Ecuador expresses its concern about the lack of definition by the electoral authority and is paying close attention to the latest developments in the electoral process,” the OAS said in a statement.
Perez won 19.38 percent of the vote in the February 7 election, just 33,000 votes behind his rival, right-wing former banker Guillermo Lasso, who has also called for a recount.
36-year-old economist Andres Arauz, a protege of former socialist president Rafael Correa, won 32.7 percent, which was not enough to win outright, and the race is now on to see who will face him in April’s run-off vote.
Pre-election polls had placed Lasso comfortably in second place, but Perez performed far better than expected: he initially appeared in second place as votes were first being counted, only to fall to third.
Since the first round of elections, indigenous and leftist groups have held several peaceful rallies supporting Perez in front of the electoral authority headquarters in capital city Quito and elsewhere.
On Monday, two groups called for a march on Quito to denounce alleged electoral fraud against their candidate, who is the first indigenous candidate to get this far in an Ecuadorian presidential race.
The son of farmworkers, Perez had said he hopes to be “the first son of an illiterate to become president”.
In its statement, the OAS called for “public demonstrations to be carried out in a peaceful manner and for political parties to settle their differences via institutional channels.”
Incumbent President Lenin Moreno’s term in office ends on May 24.
In a tweet, he said that the electoral commission’s “commitment to act seriously and sensibly towards the country requires transparency”.
The OAS has also urged the CNE to “guarantee compliance with the electoral calendar” to ensure that the April run-off takes place as scheduled.
The UN office in Ecuador tweeted Sunday it “trusts that the electoral authorities will act with efficiency, transparency and promptness, thus ensuring the timeliness of the electoral calendar.”