Ecuador presidential candidate promises to kick out Julian Assange

  • 18/02/2017
Julian Assange
Julian Assange (Reuters)

Ecuador's lead opposition candidate is offering a sharp break with 10 years of leftist rule in the Andean country, vowing to remove Wikileaks founder Julian Assange from the nation's London embassy, speak out against Venezuela's socialist government, and likely renegotiate debts with China.

Conservative former banker Guillermo Lasso is the opposition's frontrunner in Sunday's presidential election.

Polls suggest ruling party candidate, paraplegic former Vice President Lenin Moreno, 63, will win but fall just short of enough votes to avoid an April runoff against Lasso, 61.

In an interview Mr Lasso vowed that within a month of taking office in May he would remove Assange from Ecuador's embassy, where the Australian has been holed up since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over rape allegations.

"Ecuador had no business spending a single cent protecting someone who definitely leaked confidential information," Mr Lasso said.

"I will take on the responsibility of inviting Mr Assange to leave the Ecuadorean embassy at the latest 30 days after the start of our government," he said.

Mr Lasso also promised he would take a firm stance against the government of crisis-hit Venezuela, which is closely aligned with outgoing president Rafael Correa's leftist Country Alliance party.

Ecuador would also advocate that the Organization of American States push for elections in the fellow OPEC nation, Mr Lasso said.

Mr Lasso would also examine contracts and loans with China, Ecuador's top creditor since the country defaulted on US$3.2 billion in bonds in 2008.

"Opacity has characterised this relationship with China," said Mr Lasso, saying he would make public the fine print of deals with the Asian giant.