Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was shot and killed by an unidentified gunman on Wednesday in the country’s capital of Quito, the country’s current president confirmed.
Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso confirmed Villavicencio’s death in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Known for speaking out against corruption, Villavicencio, 59, was the candidate for the Build Ecuador Movement and was one of eight presidential candidates in an election slated for Aug. 20. According to reports from multiple outlets, Villavicencio was at a campaign rally when he was killed.
A suspect in Villavicencio’s killing eventually died from injuries sustained during an exchange of bullets, the attorney general’s office in Ecuador said in a post on X. The state attorney general’s office said the suspect was arrested and taken to a hospital in Quito before succumbing to injuries.
According to the attorney general’s office, nine other people were injured in the attack, including a candidate for the National Assembly and two police officers.
Villavicencio’s campaign adviser told The Associated Press (AP) the candidate had reported previous death threats prior to the authorities.
The shooting comes amid a rise in violence across Ecuador. Lasso suggested organized crime was to blame for the assassination, writing, “Organized crime has come a long way, but the full weight of the law is going to fall on them.”
Lasso said the Security Cabinet will be meeting in Carondelet, the government palace in Quito, Ecuador. Lasso said he asked top leaders including the presidents of the country’s National Electoral Council and National Court of Justice, as well as the state’s attorney general, to attend the meeting.
Lasso dismissed the National Assembly of Ecuador in May using a 2008 constitutional provision that allowed the president to dissolve the legislature during times of political crisis under the condition new elections are held for both lawmakers and the president.
Lawmakers challenged Lasso’s decision, claiming he dissolved the legislature to avoid his own impeachment over alleged crimes against state security and corruption. Ecuador’s Constitutional Court rejected these challenges, allowing the elections to move forward.
The Hill has reached out to the State Department for comment.
The Associated Press contributed.
— Updated 10:26 p.m.
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