By Edward Francis Dalliah
Fernando Villavicencio, an Ecuadoran anti-corruption and anti-drug trafficking presidential candidate has been assassinated by gunmen at a political rally in Quito on Wednesday 9th August 2023 according to numerous international reports.
The assassination plunged the country into a 60 Days State of Emergency just days before Ecuadorians were set to cast their votes in the 2023 Presidential Elections. After President Guillermo Lasso declared a State of Emergency on television and vowed that the “political crime” would not go unpunished he branded the assassination of his political opponent as “an attempt to sabotage the election process”.
CBS News has reported that six Columbian nationals were arrested soon after the assassination.
Villavicencio was captured in a video leaving a rally at Quito, heading into his vehicle. Brazen gunmen were not deterred by the crowd and security guards escorting the Presidential Candidate as they fired gunshots at the presidential candidate causing chaos and panic. Reports indicate that Villavicencio was shot in the head and rushed to a nearby clinic where he was pronounced dead. Nearby attendees at the rally were reported injured while the suspected assassin was also declared dead after being detained by Police and sustaining injuries. It’s not clear how the suspected assassin was killed while in Police custody.
According to polls, Villavicencio was ranked fourth and was outspoken about the violence in Ecuador. Before being elected to Ecuador’s Congress Villavicencio was an investigative journalist. His unwavering stance against the “Narco-State” made him a target of numerous organised crime groups who sent him numerous threats to his life.
Besides being outspoken about violence in Ecuador, Villavicencio investigated the former President of Ecuador, Raphael Correa leading to his conviction on corruption charges. The former President was sentenced in absentia and currently resides in Belgium where Ecuador has been trying to secure his extradition.
In response to the assassination, three other presidential candidates who are also on their campaign rallies announced that they were suspending them, for their life also might be at stake. Reports indicate that the Presidential Election will continue on 20th August 2023.