Andrea Gonzalez, the running mate of slain presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio has been named to stand in his place in the August 20 elections, the centrist Construye party said in a statement on Saturday. 59-year-old Villavicencio was shot while leaving a campaign event in Quito last week.
Gonzalez is a 36-year-old environmental activist who hasn’t previously held public office. “You never have enough time to process something so shocking and so sobering as the assassination of a presidential candidate (on) such a level of violence and so soon – so close to the presidential elections,” Gonzalez told CNN. Ballots have been printed, but, as per law, votes for Villvicencio will automatically transfer to the party candidate.
The slain candidate’s widow, on Saturday, criticised the party’s replacement and called it unlawful, Reuters reported. Villavicencio was an ex-lawmaker and journalist with a track record of exposing corruption. Six suspects have been charged with the murder of Villavicencio. The police have accused all six of them, Colombian nationals, have links to criminal groups.
A judge on Thursday said that all suspects should remain behind bars as the criminal investigation continues. Veronica Sarauz, Villavicencio’s widow, said the government has to provide a lot of answers for her husband’s murder.
Ecuador, in recent years, has seen a rise in violence and an increase in the murder rate. Besides this, migration and employment have emerged as key campaign issues.