Noboa assigns VP Abad to Tel Aviv as rift between the former running mates goes public

Nov 29, 2023 | 0 comments

Although Vice President Veronica Abad accepts her mission to Tel Aviv to participate in peace talks between Israel and Hamas, she says there is a “deep divide” between her and President Daniel Noboa. “Am I being banished from the kingdom?” she asked in a social media post Monday. “It certainly looks that way, doesn’t it,” she said, answering her own question.

Vice President Veronica Abad

In a Tuesday interview, Abad said Noboa is refusing to talk to her “I asked for a meeting to discuss our problems, but he said I should talk to his ministers,” she said in a Tuesday interview. “I don’t understand why we can’t sit down and talk about our misunderstandings face-to-face.”

Except for their appearance last week at inaugural ceremonies in the National Assembly, Noboa and Abad have not appeared together since mid-way through the election campaign. Abad did not attend the inaugural dinner at Carondelet Palace and does not appear in the official photo of Noboa and his government ministers. “They are saying I refused to come but this is not true. I was not invited,” she says. “It is obvious that the president wants me far away.”

Quito constitutional lawyer and professor Xavier Palacios says the conflict between Noboa and Abad is not only an embarrassment to the government but could have “real-life consequences.”

“The vice president works at the pleasure of the president, and he can give her any assignment he wants but it must not be ignored that she is next in line to the presidency and would take over if something happens to Noboa,” Palacios says. “The political differences between the two could become a big problem for the government in the future.”

According to former National Assembly member Jorge Pérez, the political differences between Noboa and Abad center around the new government’s relationship with the Citizens Revolution party and former president Rafael Correa. “There are other differences, but this is at the heart of the fight,” he says.

In her Tuesday interview, Abad said there were “secret discussions” underway that could clear Correa of his corruption conviction and allow his return to Ecuador. “I don’t know the details but I know they are talking about it.” She added that she disagreed with Noboa’s decision to form a coalition with Citizens Revolution and the Social Christians that led to the election of Social Christian Henry Kronfle as Assembly president. “I have always been strongly anti-Correista and have made my position very clear,” Abad says.

Pérez says Noboa is mostly to blame for the break with Abad for not “properly vetting” her before choosing her as his running mate. “He knew where she stood politically, which is to the far right, but apparently thought she would keep her thoughts quiet during the campaign and afterward,” Pérez says.

During the campaign, Noboa was infuriated by Abad’s comments about “Correista women,” when she called them “ugly” and said they did not care about their appearance. “Noboa personally apologized to Luisa Gonzalez about this, but Abad continued to make strange and unnecessary remarks about the Correistas,” Pérez said.

More recently, Noboa was upset by Abad’s public support for conservative Javier Milei in the Argentina presidential election. Although Noboa has not commented publicly on Milei or his political positions, his aides say he considers Milei an extremist. Milei defeated Peronist Sergio Massa earlier this month in Argentina’s presidential runoff election.

Pérez adds; “Noboa’s problem with Abad is not simply about politics, it is also about manners and the fact she does not defer to him. She refuses to stand back and stay quiet, and he is never sure what she will say. He considers her a loose cannon.”

In her comments Tuesday, Abad said she will carry out her duties in Tel Aviv with “full respect for the process that seeks peace” between Israel and Hamas. “No matter the reason I am being posted 12,000 kilometers away from Ecuador, I understand that this is an important job and I will work hard to help find a resolution. I will leave my home in Cuenca for Israel as soon as I receive my instructions.”

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