Villavicencio’s name will appear on election ballot but CNE rejects postponing Sunday’s debate
Assassinated presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio’s name will appear on the August 20 election ballot, National Electoral Council President Diana Atamaint said Thursday. “Because the ballots are already printed there is not time to make a change to a replacement candidate,” she said. “Under article 112 of the Democracy Code, the Construye Movement is allowed to name a new candidate as long as the candidate’s application complies with the registration process.”
Atamaint, however, rejected a request from the Construye Movement to postpone Sunday’s presidential debate to allow the party time to choose a replacement candidate. She said the CNE is obligated to follow elections rules established by the law.
“We consider it a reasonable request to delay the debate under the terrible circumstances,” said Antonio López, Villavicencio’s campaign manager. “We are still in shock from the murder and insist that we be allowed time to observe a mourning period before we make a decision on a new candidate.”
López, Construye vice presidential candidate Andrea González and National Assembly candidate Patricio Carrillo were among Construye party members who met Thursday at Hotel Quito.
Although González is the logical choice to take Villavicencio’s place, she refused to say if she would pursue the position. “There is a process we must go through based on our rules and then we must submit to the CNE process for certification,” she said. “Today, we are deeply hurt by Wednesday’s tragedy. We need a few days to heal before making any decisions.”
In addition to allowing time for mourning, Construye candidate for National Assembly and former Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo said postponing the debate was important so voters have the opportunity hear Villavicencio’s and the party’s position on combating crime. “Fernando had the strongest position of all the presidential candidates for fighting the criminal gangs,” he said. “It is critical, more than ever, that the people of Ecuador understand his proposals before they vote.”
Carrillo, who previously served as head of the Ecuador armed forces, added: “More than 90% of the murders committed in Ecuador today go unpunished and Fernando Villavicencio had plans to end this and punish the guilty. He was probably murdered because of them.”
Thursday afternoon, presidential candidate Otto Sonnenholzner joined Construye’s call to postpone the debate. “I support their position given the circumstances,” he said. “It is not fair to Fernando Villavicencio’s team that they are not allowed time for mourning and are not allowed to be part of the debate. I ask the CNE to reconsider its position.”
It will be the second time this year that the name of a murdered candidate has appeared on the election ballot. In February, voters elected Omar Menéndez mayor of Puerto Lopez just hours after he was gunned down in his campaign headquarters. His supporters claimed that the murder boosted his support at the polls by bringing attention to his agenda.