QUITO, Ecuador (TNS) — There's more at stake in Ecuador's presidential election on Sunday than whether the leftist legacy of outgoing President Rafael Correa will be extended with a victory by his former vice president.
If pro-business candidate Guillermo Lasso upsets former Vice President Lenin Moreno, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up in Ecuador's London embassy for five years, is likely to lose his safe haven.
Correa granted Assange asylum after accepting his argument that a Swedish arrest warrant on sexual assault charges was politically motivated.
Lasso takes a decidedly different view. On Feb. 20, a day after he finished second to Moreno in the first round of presidential voting to qualify for Sunday's runoff, Lasso was reported by Agence France-Presse as saying the London embassy "isn't a hotel" and that Ecuador was in no position to indefinitely finance the Australian-born Assange's care and feeding.
Lasso, a former bank executive, described Assange's presence in the embassy as "an unsustainable situation" and said his inclination upon assuming the presidency would be to give Assange 30 days to clear out.
"The Ecuadorean people are paying costs that it shouldn't have to," Lasso told the Guardian newspaper.