Ecuador gov't loses Quito in local election
Ecuador's opposition has won control of the capital Quito and another major city in the oil-producing Andean nation in elections, preliminary results showed, a result President Rafael Correa said threatened to make the country harder to govern.
Opposition candidates won elections to run the local governments of Quito and industrial city Cuenca, and maintained control of the economic capital and port city of Guayaquil in an unsettling result for the government.
"Quito is an important setback for the Citizen's Revolution because it is important for stability," said Correa, speaking to reporters at the offices of his Alianza Pais or Country Alliance party, referring to his socialist political project.
Correa said the loss of Quito could make the country "ungovernable" and accused associates of the winner, Mauricio Rodas, of links with the "fascist right" wing in Venezuela, saying they were "counting the days for the government to fall".
Venezuela has been shaken by a fortnight of violent opposition protests over inflation, crime and economic shortages that its socialist President Nicolas Maduro has blamed on "fascists" seeking a coup with the backing of the United States.
But analysts say the defeat reflects dissatisfaction among the electorate over the Correa administration's perceived interference in local government and harsh criticism of opponents during the campaign, and may force him to adopt a more conciliatory style.
"What's needed now is the luck of a tight-rope walker, on a cable stretched from one mountain to another and (Correa) trying to find an equilibrium for the good of Ecuador," said political analyst Patricia de la Torre.
Ecuador is the smallest member of the OPEC group of oil producing nations, with output averaging 520,000 barrels per day in January.