A mayoral candidate killed on the eve of local elections in Ecuador won his race, officials announced, in a country rocked by a dramatic increase in criminal violence.
Omar Menendez, 41, was elected mayor of the western coastal town of Puerto Lopez just hours after he was shot dead, according to results announced Tuesday by the National Electoral Council (CNE.)
There had been no time to remove his name and photo from the ballot, and he will be replaced in the job by a person designated by his party, under Ecuadoran law.
Menendez was a candidate for the Citizen Revolution movement of leftist ex-president Rafael Correa, now in opposition.
Correa, who lives under asylum in Belgium, dedicated his party’s good showing in Sunday’s election-winning at least seven of the 23 provincial prefectures and the key cities of Quito and Guayaquil — to Menendez.
Correa was sentenced in 2020 to eight years in prison for corruption.
“This triumph is in memory of our comrade Omar Menendez. An immense hug to his family,” the former president wrote on Twitter Monday. He also expressed support for the family of a 16-year-old who died in the same attack.
Menendez was one of two mayoral candidates killed ahead of Sunday’s local elections in a country that has seen a steep rise in criminal violence blamed on a spiralling war between drug gangs.
Julio Cesar Farachio, running for the mayorship in Salinas in the southwest, was also shot dead.
The provincial and local elections were held alongside a referendum in which one of the key questions was allowing the extradition of Ecuadorans — currently prohibited — with links to organized crime.
The measure, and others, were rejected, according to partial results, in what is being interpreted as a rout for conservative President Guillermo Lasso, who was pushing it as a measure for crime reduction.