Famous Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was shot dead while leaving a rally in the nation’s capital, Quito, on Wednesday, days before a national election. The 59-year-old anti-corruption and gang crusader, who had complained of receiving threats, was murdered as he was leaving a stadium in Quito after holding a campaign rally, officials said.
Villavicencio was the second-most popular candidate in the presidential race, according to recent opinion polls. He had been protected by three layers of security, the National Police said on Thursday. The innermost ring of guards consisted of five police officers, who were flanked by a support team and two patrol cars. One of the alleged attackers was shot and killed by security personnel following a pursuit, police said. And police detonated an explosive device planted in the area, said chief investigator Alain Luna.
President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency on Thursday and blamed the assassination on organised crime. “Outraged and shocked by the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio,” the president said in a statement on social media, blaming the killing on “organised crime” and “for his memory and for his fight, I assure you that this crime will not go unpunished.”
President Lasso said in his YouTube address that “The Armed Forces, as of this moment, are mobilised throughout the national territory to guarantee the security of citizens, the tranquility of the country, and the free and democratic elections of August 20.”
He also declared a three-day national mourning to honour the memory of a patriot, the late Fernando Villavicencio Valencia.
Lasso added that it was a political crime with a terrorist undertone,with the aim of attempting to sabotage the electoral process and confirmed not to seek re-election.
However, President of the National Electoral Council Diana Atamaint said the date of the elections scheduled for August 20 remains unalterable.