- Title: ECUADOR: Presidential campaign ends before Ecuador runoff
- Date: 24th November 2006
- Summary: CANDIDATE CORREA WAVING FROM STAGE (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, RAFAEL CORREA, SAYING: "What's at stake ... it's beyond playing household builder. We need to be careful, it's the oligarchy we are indeed fighting. What's really at stake here is whether we are a nation or mere real estate of the wealthiest man in the country (opponent Noboa). We deserve a sobering and proud nation." "ALIANZA PAIS " FLAGS
- Embargoed: 9th December 2006 12:00
- Location: Ecuador
- Country: Ecuador
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAD4CGW7TSR98DBSKOEHCCOP0CF
- Story Text: Ecuadorian presidential candidate Rafael Correa on Thursday (November 23) accused his opponent's supporters of plotting to rig Sunday's (November 26) run-off election, as a campaign marred by insults and mudslinging wound down.
As the electoral campaign came to an end on Thursday night, polls were showing Alvaro Noboa, a banana magnate proposing free-market policies, with a slight edge over Rafael Correa, an ally of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, who promises sweeping reforms to toss out the discredited political old guard. Polls also reveal that one out of every five Ecuadorians are still undecided about who they want to be their eighth president in a decade.
Correa accused his rivals of staging election fraud when he lost by 4 percentage points against conservative Noboa in October's first-round vote. But foreign election observers said the ballot was generally clean and fair.
He said his opponents could try to manipulate exit polls and bribe voters to ensure Noboa's victory on Sunday.
When asked if he was going to call on his supporters to protest and challenge results that go against him, Correa said they would go "wherever" to assure a clean election.
In a message echoing the disillusionment of voters, Correa has promised to thrash the political old guard that many Ecuadorians see as corrupt and inept. But his harsh rhetoric worried Wall Street and the middle-class electorate.
"What's at stake it's beyond playing household builder. We need to be careful, it's the oligarchy we are indeed fighting. What's really at stake here is whether we are a nation or mere real estate of the wealthiest man in the country (opponent Noboa). We deserve a sobering and proud nation," Correa told supporters in Quito on the final day of official campaigning.
The left-winger has since retooled his campaign to soften his tone and now battles Noboa with similar populist promises to build homes and hand out cheap credit to the poor.
Noboa, the scion of the country's wealthiest family, has used a successful populist campaign to woo the poor who make up more than of half of Ecuador's 13 million population.
The businessman has painted his rival as a communist who will wreck the country's economy and is under the influence of Venezuela's Chavez.
"Chavez (Venezuelan President), who I don't agree with, he's man enough to call himself a socialist, but Correa calls himself a pseudo-christian, a pseudo-leftist. He's wishy-washy, from left, to right, to centre. That's Correa. That's his movement. Who do you think you are going to fool? Do you think the poor is idiot?," claimed Noboa at his campaign closure in Guayaquil.
Correa has fired back saying the tycoon exploits child labour on his plantations and plans to turn the country into his own banana republic if he wins. Noboa dismisses those charges as propaganda.
Correa, a U.S.-trained economist, spooked Wall Street and investors with his pledges to limit debt payments to boost social spending and renegotiate foreign oil contracts.
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