The party of assassinated Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio has chosen a friend and close associate of his, Christian Zurita, to run in the nation’s convulsed elections.
Zurita, 53, is an investigative reporter from Quito who, like Villavicencio, has written extensively on domestic corruption. Zurita is the second candidate put forward by the centrist Construye party since Villavicencio was assassinated on Wednesday.
Though Construye officially nominated Zurita as its candidate, he won’t be permitted to participate in the only debate before the election because the paperwork wasn’t cleared in time, said Diana Atamaint, president of the National Electoral Council.
The debate, now among the seven other presidential candidates, is scheduled for 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. EDT) on Sunday. The election will take place Aug. 20.
Zurita said he will campaign on an anti-crime agenda that he helped Villavicencio write. He spoke at a press conference on Sunday at a hotel in Ecuador’s capital, flanked by vice-presidential candidate Andrea Gonzalez, an environmental activist. Both wore police-issued bulletproof vests.
Villavicencio was gunned down as he left a campaign event at a school in north-central Quito amid spiraling political violence. Six suspects, all Colombian, were arrested following the attack, while the injured alleged gunman bled to death in custody.
The snap elections were forced by President Guillermo Lasso’s decision to shut down Ecuador’s congress, which was attempting to impeach him. If no candidate wins an outright majority or at least 40% of valid votes with a 10-point advantage over the runner-up, a runoff will be held on Oct. 15.
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