QUITO, Feb 23 (Reuters) – Hundreds of indigenous Ecuadorians arrived in the capital Quito on Tuesday to demand a recount of votes for the February 7 presidential election, after official results showed leader and activist Yaku Pérez made no progress. to the second electoral round.
Pérez, a 51-year-old lawyer, has been walking around the Andean nation to denounce what he calls manipulation of the electoral records, which left him in third place behind left-wing economist Andrés Arauz and conservative banker Guillermo Lasso.
The National Electoral Council (CNE) confirmed on Sunday that Arauz and Lasso advanced to the April 11 ballot after the final vote, which also shows Pérez in third place less than one percentage point behind Lasso.
The protesters arrived early in buses to the south of Quito carrying the flag of the Pachakutik political movement that supports Pérez. Then they congregated in a park and shouted slogans that read “transparency yes, fraud no.”
“We are going to give the National Electoral Council one last chance,” said Pérez before handing over to the secretary of the body boxes containing more than 16,000 records with inconsistencies identified by his political movement.
“This fraud cannot remain in impunity, nobody can hide it,” he added.
Pérez wants a vote count in 17 of the 24 provinces of the country.
Candidates can present objections or contest the results of the vote before the electoral council or a claims court, according to Ecuadorian electoral law.
Arauz won the first presidential round with 32.72% of the votes. While Lasso obtained 19.74% and Pérez 19.39%, according to official data.
The indigenous leader had a surprisingly strong performance in the presidential elections after promoting his platform to protect the water resources of the mining industry and recover money from the corruption of previous governments.
“Yaku is a leader and worker just like us, he walks together with us,” said Rosa Salinas, 58, who makes her living weaving straw hats. “We want transparency and that politicians do not deceive us, we are already tired.”
Pérez has filed complaints of possible fraud with the country’s control entities, which have requested a computer audit of the vote count before the second electoral round. But the CNE pointed out that “any control activity should be carried out once the entire electoral process is concluded.”
(Report by Alexandra Valencia. Edited by Rodrigo Charme)