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Ecuador24 November 2006

Witch-hunt within media feared after this weekend’s presidential election runoff

On the eve of the 26 November presidential election runoff between left-winger Rafael Correa and right-winger Alvaro Noboa, Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today that the threats and insults between the two candidates and their supporters that have marked the campaign could result in a witch-hunt within the media after the election.

“We fear the repercussions this campaign may have on Ecuador’s media,” the press freedom organisation said. “In the absence of real political debate, the exchanges between Correa and Nobea and their supporters were limited to insults, threats and dirty tricks, which the media reported, as it is their job to do.”

“In such a tense climate, we hope the elections results will be respected and that each candidate will keep his followers under control and will refrain from any temptation to take revenge on media that supposedly belong to the opposing camp. The last thing Ecuador now needs is a media war.”

In the first round on 15 October, banana magnate Noboa came first with 26 per cent and radical economist Correa was runner-up with 23 per cent. Noboa, who claims to be “God’s chosen” and wants to strenthen ties with the United States, criticises Correa for supporting Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez. Correa criticises Noboa’s neo-liberal views and authoritarian methods and accuses him of using child-labour on his banana plantations.

Thoughout the six-week campaign, the two candidates have incessantly accused each other of being a “communist devil and terrorist” on the one hand, and “a far-right fundamentalist worthy of [former Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio] Somoza” on the other.

Noboa is very suspicious of the media and has publicly accused TV station Ecuavisión’s journalists of working for Correa and of participating in the “destruction of the country.” Ecuavisión responded by saying it held Noboa “responsible for the physical safety” of its personnel, according to Agence France-Presse.

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