In a late session yesterday, the National Electoral Council (CNE) cancelled the vote recount that had been agreed to between the two second place finishers in the February 6th election, and CNE President Diane Atamaint.
The planned recount was to have started on Monday after a weekend of back-and-forth discussions between the three parties. But as Monday came and went without the start of the recount, disagreements began to place the recount in doubt.
The CNE suspended the recount of votes from the first round of the presidential election requested by left-wing Indigenous candidate Yaku Pérez, who has alleged that fraud denied him a place in the runoff.
Pérez, a 51-year-old environmental lawyer, had formally submitted the request for a recount in 17 of the country’s 24 provinces.
The recount would involve about six million ballots, representing about 45 percent of Ecuador’s registered voters.
Pérez won 19.38 percent of the vote in the February 7 election, just 33,000 votes behind his second-placed rival, right-wing former banker Guillermo Lasso, 65, who has also called for a recount.
The recount was put on hold after the five-member council could not reach a majority in favor of Pérez’s request after holding a vote late on Tuesday, with two for, one against, one abstention and another absent.
“This plenary session of the National Electoral Council, unfortunately, does not respond to the request, nor does it approve or deny the report presented in the technical area” on the request for a recount, council head Diana Atamaint said.
The president of the CNE, Diana Atamaint, and the counselor Esthela Acero voted in favor of approving the report; José Cabrera, against; Enrique Pita abstained, and Luis Verdesoto left the meeting without comment.
Hours after the vote, on her Twitter account, Atamaint stressed that, as there were not enough votes, the document was not approved.
A counselor left the room without any explanation, and as there were no votes for approval or a tie, the report that gave way to the request for a vote-by-vote count was not approved. pic.twitter.com/ixzYY0s8vr
– Diana Atamaint (@DianaAtamaint) February 17, 2021
The report was made by the CNE’s Legal Advisory Directorate, in response to a formal claim raised by the candidate Yaku Pérez, from Pachakutik, through an official letter dated Saturday, February 13.
The CNE report proposed the recount of all the votes in Guayas and 50% in 16 provinces. On the list were all those provinces from the Coast, all those from the Sierra except for Carchi, and Morona Santiago. The document also recommended that in these provinces a random selection of the ballot boxes be carried out for the count.
In the session, the counselor Luis Verdesoto asked that this report be withdrawn because, in his opinion, it did not include the agreement reached by Pérez and the candidate Guillermo Lasso, from the CREO Movement, on February 12 last. “That report is an abortion,” he criticized and called the document biased.
The incidents of the vote
Verdesoto suggested, as soon as the national scrutiny hearing began, that the legal report be withdrawn, considering that it is “partial” and that it does not include the fundamentals of the agreement reached with Lasso and Pérez, with the presence of the CNE authorities and the OAS Observation Mission.
“This will satisfy a part, but not the nation, we need the entire of Ecuador to be satisfied… This report is an abortion, as it is conceived. It throws overboard what cost us a lot to build, this is a report that all it does is confront the country,” said Verdesoto. However, his motion to withdraw the report was not endorsed and put to a vote.
José Cabrera expressed solidarity with the officials of the technical areas of the CNE, in the face of allegations of an alleged fraud. He also dedicated a few phrases to the President of the Republic, Lenín Moreno, who asked the electoral body to “act seriously and sensibly,” in addition to reiterating the availability of economic resources for a possible recount.
“I hope that the President, for the second round, would be able to give vaccines to those about 270,000 citizens who went to risk their health in the polling stations and that this time they will go without fear that they are going to be infected (from the Covid- 19) … I wish we had that money facility to help democracy.” Cabrera asked that the scrutiny process be completed to proclaim results and later that political organizations can file claims.
# Elecciones2021Ec | “We must face the country,” said President Diana Atamaint, voting in favor of the report for the recount of 100% of presidential acts in Guayas and 50% in 16 provinces. “The CNE is willing to continue fostering spaces for dialogue between candidates” pic.twitter.com/WmQsoXTNg4 – The Trade (@elcomerciocom) February 17, 2021
CNE Vice President Enrique Pita, said that the claims presented must be in accordance with the Code of Democracy. He said that if they approved the report as proposed, “the constitutional rule of law would be violated and a space would be opened for the presentation of legal appeals, which will affect the proclamation of definitive results of the dignity of President, which has not been still approved.”
Atamaint says there is still a chance for a recount
After the CNE session ended, Atamaint told CNN that “since the request to recount vote by vote in this stage of the process has not been resolved,” the next step for the CNE will be the official announcement of the results of the general elections of February 7. She said that this will happen in four days, once the scrutiny of foreign jurisdictions is carried out.
“Once the results are officially proclaimed and the scrutiny is closed, candidates or political organizations have the legal possibility of filing challenges before the CNE and even appeals before the Electoral Contentious Tribunal, “said Atamaint.
Perez and indigenous react to CNE move with call for mobilization
The indigenous political movement of Yaku Pérez, Pachakutik, called for a national march on Wednesday to demand that the Electoral Council recount the votes of the February 7 elections, in light of the allegations of fraud made by its leader, Yaku Pérez.
The coordinator of Pachakutik, Marlon Santi, explained that the mobilization will start from the city of Loja, in southern Ecuador, and will consist of a march in the direction of the Andean center of the country, with a stop in the town of Latacunga, before arriving to Quito, where the participants will demonstrate in front of the CNE to express their claim.
“The walk will include several provinces, from the center of the country it will reach the CNE, we in six or seven days,” said the head of the political group.
Without being able to specify how many people he estimates that could join the call, he clarified that Quito usually “arrives as always an amount,” and that the main objective is that “there is transparency of the CNE, that a vote be opened (a new count), because we feel affected by the fraud against our candidate.”
Pérez, who since the early morning of February 8th has maintained that there have been inconsistencies between the votes assigned to his movement and the tally sheets, plans to appear today at the headquarters of his movement to assess the decision taken last night by the CNE.
“Do not dream that we are going to support Lasso’s organized crime, or dream that to prevent (Rafael) Correa from coming to Ecuador we have to support the bank holiday and the corruption of Mr. Guillermo Lasso … we are the only ones who can win,” said the presidential candidate of the Pachakutik movement, Yaku Pérez.
Santi announced that the marches, according to the express appeal of the movement, will be peaceful, “The leadership will have a guide who will be socialized along the way and the walks are strictly peaceful. We will not accept any infiltrator, and anyone who defies will be subjected to indigenous punishment.”
April runoff is the prize
Eleven days after the national election—and with the correista Andrés Arauz as the clear winner with 32.72% of the votes—the big battle now is for second place, which is causing a big conflict within Ecuadorian society that is attracting worldwide media attention.
Pérez, with 19.38%, says that there have been irregularities that have lowered him from second to third place, to the advantage of center-right Guillermo Lasso, who now has 19.74% of the votes.
In a brief statement issued last night, Pérez assured that he still has legal resources at his disposal to demand that the votes be counted.