Presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio speaking at a rally shortly before the assassination Presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio speaking at a rally shortly before the assassination  (ANSA)

Ecuadorian presidential candidate assassinated in Quito

Authorities are vowing to bring to justice those responsible for the assassination of a candidate for the upcoming presidential election in Ecuador.

By James Blears

The assassination of Fernando Villavicencio occurred following a campaign rally outside of Colegio Anderson in the capital Quito.

Villavicencio, who was a Candidate of the Build Ecuador Party in the runup to the upcoming August 20th presidential election, was accompanied by bodyguards but was shot three times in the head at point-blank range, as he was getting into a vehicle. The assassin was himself shot in an exchange of gunfire and later died.

Villavicencio had frequently spoken out against organized crime and corruption. His team said he had received death threats in a letter last week.

Listen to James Blears' report

Outgoing President Guillermo Lasso has condemned the killing of the former legislator, blaming organized crime. He said: “Organized crime has gone too far, and they’ll feel the full weight of the law.”

Villavicencio who was 59 years old, married, and the father of five daughters, was a former journalist and union member of the national petroleum company.

The appalling, brazen, and violent nature of his death has shocked Ecuador and the entire spectrum of presidential candidates right across the board. Last month Presidential Lasso, who is not seeking re-election, declared a state of emergency in three provinces, following an upsurge in violence including killings.

This assassination casts a long shadow and somber pall over the upcoming elections, the rule of law and order and the thread of democracy in Ecuador. An investigation is already underway.

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10 August 2023, 09:47