Businessman Noboa wins Ecuador presidency, eclipsing father’s legacy

By Alexandra Valencia

QUITO (Reuters) – Business scion Daniel Noboa will fulfill a long-held family ambition when he takes office as Ecuador’s president, after winning election on Sunday on promises to create jobs and bring crime gangs under control.

Noboa, 35, who quit a job at his family’s sprawling conglomerate when he was elected to the national legislature in 2021, won more than 52% of the vote, beating leftist challenger Luisa Gonzalez, who had about 48%, with the initial tally nearly complete.

“Tomorrow we start work for this new Ecuador, we start working to rebuild a country seriously battered by violence, by corruption and by hate,” Noboa told supporters in the seaside town of Olon after clinching victory in a campaign marred by the murder of anti-corruption candidate Fernando Villavicencio.

“From tomorrow Daniel Noboa starts work as your new president,” he added.

Gonzalez conceded defeat to her rival and congratulated him.

Noboa grew up accompanying his banana baron father Alvaro during the latter’s multiple failed bids to become president, and was a surprise qualifier for the second round run-off.

His campaign was a shift away from his father’s populist rhetoric and the cries from his rival to return to the social policies of her mentor, former President Rafael Correa.

Noboa, a native of Guayaquil, has pledged to attract foreign investment and develop Ecuador’s business sector.

His victory will be an immediate balm to markets, analysts have said, but his cabinet picks are still unknown and are likely to influence long-term market outlook.

Noboa has also promised job creation, particularly for young people, and his supporters have touted the married father-of-two’s fresh perspective on the country’s problems.

Ecuador’s economy has struggled to recover since the coronavirus pandemic, contributing to soaring crime – which outgoing President Guillermo Lasso blames on disputes between drug-trafficking gangs – and a sharp rise in emigration.

Noboa has promised to create a new intelligence unit to tackle gangs, supply security forces with tactical weapons, and house the country’s most dangerous convicts in prison ships out at sea.

The next president is due to assume office in December.

(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb. Editing by Gerry Doyle)