Quito, Aug 20 (EFE).- Polling stations across Ecuador opened on Sunday for a general election, the run up for which has been marred by a spike in violence in the South American country.
The election is being held under a state of emergency following the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villaviciendo, who was shot and killed outside a campaign rally in Quito on Aug. 9.
Amid a growing wave of violence that authorities have attributed to organized criminal groups, mainly involved in drug trafficking, Ecuadorians are voting to elect a new president and 137 new members of the National Assembly (Parliament).
Troops from Ecuador’s armed forces have been deployed to reinforce security measures at polling stations.
Voting precincts opened at 7am, and will close at 5pm.
Eight candidates are vying to succeed the current president, the conservative Guillermo Lasso, including lawyer and former parliamentarian Luisa González – an ally of former president Rafael Correa –, former deputy president Otto Sonnenholzner and the former legislator and businessman and security specialist Jan Topic.
Also in the race are indigenous environmentalist Yaku Pérez, businessmen Xavier Hervás and Daniel Noboa, independent lawyer Bolívar Armijos and journalist Christian Zurita.
The winners of both the presidential and legislative elections will complete the 2021-2025 term, which was suspended in May when Lasso invoked the constitutional mechanism of “muerte cruzada” (“crossed death”) that saw the dissolution of the opposition-controlled parliament just as it was about to impeach him for allegations of embezzlement, which he denies.
Ecuadorians are also voting Sunday in two environmental plebiscites to ban oil and mining, respectively, in two nature reserves. EFE