Friday, October 20, 2006

Ecuador: Correa claims voting fraud

On October 15 Ecuador went to the polls. Having seen eight presidents in 10 years, three of whom were overthrown by a population frustrated by the corruption, ineptitude and nepotism that characterise Ecuador's elite, the chances of any government lasting out its mandate seem pretty slim. However, the challenge could be in getting one of the pool of 13 presidential candidates even legitimately elected.

First counts showed the radical left-wing economist, Rafael Correa, and two-time runner-up, billionaire banana magnate Alvaro Noboa, neck-and-neck with around 25% each — until the voting machines, supplied by Brazilian company E-Vote, broke down.

When E-Vote declared that it was unable to count the last thirty percent of votes, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) rescinded its contract, and Correa, who had been polling well over 30% immediately before the election, claimed that a fraud had been perpetrated. Many of the other parties have echoed his claims.

A subsequent recount by the TSE confirmed a margin of 26% to 23% in favour of Noboa. However, Correa's party, Alianza Pais ("Country Alliance") has produced what it claims is evidence of systematic fraud, including photographs of members of Noboa's PRIAN (Renovador Institucional) party at polling booths marking and removing hundreds of ballots.