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World

Classic left-right choice in Ecuador election

  • If elected, Arauz could pardon Correa or seek a judicial review of the case against him.
09 Apr 2021

QUITO: Ecuadorans head to the polls on Sunday with a simple choice to make: voting for the left or the right.

Bidding to succeed Lenin Moreno as president are socialist young economist Andres Arauz and Catholic former banker Guillermo Lasso.

AFP takes a look at the two candidates battling for the hearts and minds of Ecuador's voters.

Andres Arauz, Correa's protege

Former Central Bank boss Arauz, 36, is the protege of leftist ex-president Rafael Correa, whose political influence remains strong in Ecuador despite a corruption conviction that disqualified him from running as Arauz's deputy.

Arauz is utterly unlike his temperamental and charismatic mentor, though.

Announcing his candidacy on Twitter last August, Arauz introduced himself as "'the perfect stranger' who knows and loves Ecuador and is committing himself to bringing our people out of the health and economic crisis."

Once a minister in Correa's cabinet, Arauz defines himself as a patriot, a democrat and progressive, and describes Moreno as a traitor to the socialist cause.

He's already vowed if elected to ensure those responsible for Ecuador's "negligence in handling the pandemic" will face justice, something many take as a veiled threat to Moreno.

While his strong showing in the first round of voting -- he polled 12 percentage points more than Lasso -- was in large part due to his links to Correa, he is torn between loyalty to his mentor and a desire to shake off accusations he's merely a puppet.

Correa, convicted of graft charges that he claims were political persecution under Moreno, is in Belgium avoiding an eight-year jail term.

If elected, Arauz could pardon Correa or seek a judicial review of the case against him.

But that's as far as he's willing to go, telling AFP that "from May 24, it will be me governing Ecuador."

The presidential hopeful speaks English, French and Russian, and he plays the piano and accordion.

He is married and has a son.