Former President Rafael Correa returned to Ecuador early Friday morning to lead the opposition to President Lenin Moreno’s popular referendum.
Correa arrived in Guayaquil shortly after midnight and told supporters at the airport that he “come home to fight the emerging dictatorship of Moreno.”
Later, speaking from the back of truck, the ex-president said that Moreno violated the constitution by not allowing Ecuador’s Constitutional Court to rule on the referendum questions. “It is illegal but now we must turn our attention to defeating the program. We must defend what has been won and is now threatened,” he said.
Correa said the “No” campaign should focus on defeating referendum questions 2, 3, and 6. “These represent a regression of rights for the people of Ecuador and must be stopped.” He is also urging his supporters to vote against question 1, which prohibits those convicted of corruption from holding public office.
Question 2 is personal for Correa since it would prevent him from running again for president. A “yes” vote would nullify a constitutional amendment sponsored by Correa and passed by the National Assembly in 2015 that allows indefinite reelection of some officials, including the president.
Question 3 would restructure the Council of Citizen Participation and Social Control (CPCCS), included in the 2008 constitution, which is responsible for the appointment of non-elected government officials. The CPCCS, modeled on a similar Venezuelan agency, removes authority previously held by the National Assembly and reassigns it to the executive branch.
Question 6 would eliminate an added tax on real estate capital gains imposed by the National Assembly in 2016. The tax was aimed at curbing land speculation but critics say it punishes all property owners and the construction industry.
Correa who moved to Belgium, his wife’s home, after he left office in May, says he will stay in Ecuador for the duration of the referendum campaign.