QUITO, Aug 14 (Reuters) – A local leader of the political movement founded by former President Rafael Correa was assassinated in Ecuador’s Esmeraldas province on Monday, party leaders said, less than a week after the assassination of a presidential candidate.
Ecuadorians are going to the polls on Sunday to hold snap presidential elections after Guillermo Lasso dissolved the legislature to avoid impeachment.
The vote comes amid a high crime rate in the country, with rising incidents of violence and murder — in cities and prisons — that Lasso has repeatedly attributed to drug-trafficking gangs.
Pedro Briones, director of the Revolución Ciudadana in the municipality of San Mateo in Esmeraldas, has been assassinated, leading figures such as Correa and Luisa González, the party’s presidential candidate, said in messages on social media.
“My solidarity hug goes to the family of compañero Pedro Briones, who fell into the hands of violence,” González said on Platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
“Ecuador is experiencing its bloodiest time. We owe this to the complete abandonment of an incompetent government and a mafia-taken state,” he added. “Change is urgent!”.
The Ecuadorian police and interior ministry did not respond immediately.
The leaders of the Revolución Ciudadana party did not provide any information about Briones’ death.
Correa also condemned the crime on Platform X. “They murdered another of our colleagues in Esmeraldas. Enough is enough!!!!,” wrote the ex-president.
Last week, presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, 59, was shot dead in Quito after exiting a campaign rally. The incident shocked the country and led to top candidates campaigning for a crackdown on crime.