In a stunning reversal, national elections council decides against recount; Indigenous plan protests

Feb 17, 2021 | 21 comments

After preparations had been made to recount presidential election votes in 17 provinces, the National Electoral Council (CNE) voted Tuesday night not to proceed with the recount and to stand by the official results of the February 7 balloting. The recount plan, agreed to on Friday by indigenous Pachakutik candidate Yaku Pérez and the conservative CREO candidate Guillermo Lasso, would have determined who would face leading candidate Andres Arauz in the April 11 runoff.

The CNE voted Tuesday night not to proceed with an election recount. (El Universo)

The vote against continuing with the recount was two to one in favor with one abstention and two members absent. The plan required three votes to pass. The vote came as a surprise following Friday’s CNE meeting when there appeared to be unanimous support for the recount.

“The council has decided not to move forward with the recount proposal, taking no position on its legitimacy,” said CNE President Diana Atamaint, who voted in favor.

After the meeting, Pérez and other indigenous leaders said there would be consequences. “There will be massive protests,” said Carlos Sucuzhañay, president of the Ecuarunari movement. “We were planning mobilizations before the meeting. Now, those mobilizations will be much larger and more intense.”

Following the meeting, Atamaint said that some recounting is still possible but must be formally requested by the campaigns following the official release of election totals on February 20 or 21. “We are still reviewing votes in some provinces and there was a delay in counting overseas votes from some countries,” she said. “We will announce final results in about four days.”

Friday’s agreement between Pérez and Lasso was to recount 100 percent of the votes in Guayas Province and 50 percent in 16 other provinces. On Saturday, Lasso objected to new requests from Pérez, saying he supported the original plan. CNE member Esthela Acero said Sunday that the recount would proceed under Friday’s plan.

Sucuzhañay said he was suspicious before Tuesday’s meeting that the recount would not go forward. “We are accustomed to business as usual in this country, which means that the indigenous people are not respected. I was still hopeful votes would be counted again so we could be assured that fraud did not occur. Now we suspect there is fraud.” He said that that various marches from the Sierra region would proceed toward Quito and that large protests will be planned for Quito and Guayaquil.

He added: “There will be disruptions to traffic along the march route and to daily routines in Quito and Guayaquil and possibly in Cuenca and other cities.”

Unofficial election results as of Tuesday night showed Lasso leading Pérez, 19.74 percent to 19.38 percent.

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