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Ecuador candidates close campaigning ahead of Sunday vote

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© FILE PHOTO: Ecuadorean presidential candidate Luisa Gonzalez waves Ecuador’s flag as vice presidential candidate Andres Arauz looks on during a campaign rally, in Quito, Ecuador October 11, 2023. REUTERS/Karen Toro/File Photo

By Alexandra Valencia

QUITO () – Ecuador’s two presidential candidates – leftist Luisa Gonzalez and business heir Daniel Noboa – will officially close their campaigns with rallies and vehicle caravans on Thursday, as both promise to fight worsening insecurity and unemployment.

The campaign ahead of Sunday’s election has been marked by violence and threats against candidates, including anti-corruption candidate Fernando Villavicencio’s murder before the August first round.

Seven suspects jailed in the case were subsequently also killed.

Banana heir Noboa, 35, has led recent polling, though some surveys put voting intention for him and Gonzalez within the margin of error.

He has pledged to attract foreign investment, create jobs, particularly for young people, and use technology to combat rising crime, which the outgoing government has blamed on drug gangs.

Noboa closed campaigning in Quito on Wednesday with a caravan around the city, though a technical issue with his flight from Guayaquil significantly delayed his agenda. He is expected to hold a rally in Santa Elena on Thursday evening.

“Our proposals are very clear and that’s why we have the confidence of the majority of the Ecuadorean people, the majority of young people,” Noboa said on social media. “We are the new generation!”

Gonzalez, who won 34% of the vote in the first round and is a protégé of former President Rafael Correa, asked her supporters to “care for votes in every corner of the country.”

Gonzalez has promised to bring back the high social spending which characterized Correa’s decade in power and use $2.5 billion from Ecuador’s international reserves to shore up the economy.

“Someone who hasn’t suffered hunger, who hasn’t gone to look for work, doesn’t know how to transform this country,” Gonzalez told supporters at her closing Quito campaign event on Wednesday, amid a heavy downpour. “This Sunday is not just any election, we are here on our feet resisting because we want to transform the country.”

Gonzalez will visit Manta and Guayaquil on Thursday.

More than 13 million people are obliged to vote in the contest, whose winner will govern during a shortened term until May 2025.

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