- Title: ECUADOR: Presidential campaigns come to a close in Ecuador
- Date: 14th October 2006
- Summary: (W3) QUITO, ECUADOR (OCTOBER 12, 2006) (REUTERS) (SOUND AND VISION AS INCOMING) SUPPORTERS OF CANDIDATE RAFAEL CORREA AT RALLY WITH MUSICIANS PLAYING CANDIDATE RAFAEL CORREA ARRIVING AT RALLY (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) RAFAEL CORREA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, SAYING: " We started and we're ending with rain and this is a sign of good luck and of a victory by the people."
- Embargoed: 29th October 2006 12:00
- Location: Ecuador
- Country: Ecuador
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVACT6PMEQ6G1LEYIKDUVFKXWX2V
- Story Text: Presidential campaigns closed in Ecuador on Thursday (October 12), with supporters for the three top candidates rallying in the capital city of Quito and the country's largest city of Guayaquil, and polls predicting no outright victory in Sunday's vote.
A U.S.-trained economist who spent time working in poor indigenous communities, leftist front-runner Rafael Correa captured voters with a promise to sweep away the political old guard, change the constitution with a popular assembly and suspend a U.S. free trade deal.
"We started and we're ending with rain and this is a sign of good luck and of a victory by the people," Correa said as he addressed the crowds in Quito.
Latest polls show Correa, an ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, is ahead of billionaire Alvaro Noboa, but so far without the large margin he needs at Sunday's presidential election to avoid a second round in late November.
Wall Street is fretting over the rise of Correa, who has warned he could forgo bond payments. He vows to break the grip of unpopular traditional parties in a message appealing to Ecuadorians sick of years of instability and corruption.
Running second in the polls, candidate Alvaro Noboa is the owner of one of the world's top five banana plantations and is on his third attempt to win the presidency.
The 55-year-old was recently mobbed by students in poor southern Quito when he donated a computer in a school. He has also sent a medical van into neighbourhoods to give out free medicines to voters.
Noboa's rivals attack the tycoon for spending over campaign limits and using his wealth to buy votes of poor Ecuadorians.
The latest respected poll this week -- from Informe Confidencial -- gave Correa 30 percent of intended votes, Noboa 23 percent and moderate candidate Leon Roldos 19 percent.
The two top candidates must face off in a second round if no candidate wins a majority on Sunday (October 15) or secures at least 40 percent of votes with a 10 point advantage.
"Yes, according to the polls and the will of Ecuadorians, I'll go to a second round," said Noboa.
Noboa, one of Latin America's richest men, has surpassed moderate rival Leon Roldos.
Roldos, a former vice-president, is 64-year-old and has said that he would put free trade on a referendum, for voters to decide.
Only a few percentage points behind the leaders, he remained upbeat as he closed his campaign in Guayaquil.
"We're going to construct a positive country, with a soul, with a mind, with a heart," he said.
The small, poor Andean country has struggled to regain stability since President Lucio Gutierrez was ousted last year by protesters and lawmakers accusing him of abusing his authority. He was the third president ousted in a decade.
Many Ecuadorians see politicians from traditional parties as swindlers who have done little to improve the lot of the poor majority.
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