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Correa says banning his party from standing is proof Ecuador's government expects to lose next year's election

FORMER Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa has denounced a ban on his new movement standing in the 2021 election as a form of “electoral fraud.”

The National Electoral Council confirmed on Wednesday that the Social Commitment Force of Mr Correa, part of the Union for Hope Coalition, would not be allowed to stand, having originally suspended it in July.

The former leader, driven into exile by his successor and one-time deputy Lenin Moreno, had been selected to stand for the vice-presidency.

Mr Correa tweeted that the Ecuadorean government was banning opposition parties because of its fear of “assured defeat at the polls.”

An early day motion in Britain’s Parliament cited the ban on Mr Correa standing as an example of the “growing abuses of the legal system for political purposes in Latin America,” alongside the prevention of Brazilian former president Lula from standing in Brazil last year and the exclusion of Bolivia’s Evo Morales, overthrown in a military coup following his re-election last November, from that country’s upcoming elections.

On Wednesday Mr Morales publicly thanked MPs Richard Burgon, who put down the motion, and Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott, the first to sign it, for standing up against “the judicial persecution of Rafael and me.”

Mr Moreno faces growing popular unrest over terms on which the International Monetary Fund is proposing to lend Ecuador $6.5 billion (£5bn) to “help ease the economic burden following the Covid pandemic.”

IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva said the loan would “support economic policies to help Ecuador’s people overcome the current crisis.”

These include guarantees that crisis-related spending will be cut next year, a “fiscal reform package” that would “moderate” public spending in the future and “comprehensive tax reform.”

Critics scent a resurrection of the hated “package” of neoliberal reforms that sparked huge protests last year that forced the government to flee the capital, Quito, and promise to back down.

Cotopaxi Indigenous and Farmers Movement leader Leonidas Iza said the conditions would force workers to pay the price for the Covid crisis.

“We do not rule out another massive uprising,” he warned. “The government should listen.”

Ecuador has among the highest death rates and the worst unemployment crisis in Latin America, having failed to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Moreno, who stood for the presidency as the candidate of the PAIS party founded by Mr Correa and on a platform of continuity with the latter’s socialist policies, U-turned in office, privatising public services, renewing collaboration with the US military and launching purges of socialists from the courts and state administration.

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