|Ecuador's Correa shifts right with Chavez comments|
19 Oct 2006 23:02:14 GMT
QUITO, Ecuador, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Ecuadorean presidential candidate Rafael Correa tempered his leftist rhetoric on Thursday, distancing himself from firebrand Venezuelan President Huge Chavez and criticizing Colombia's Marxist rebels.
Correa, a self-described friend of Chavez criticized for his refusal to call Colombian guerrillas terrorists, came in second in Sunday's first round of voting against banana tycoon Alvaro Noboa, who favors closer ties to the United States.
Correa vows to win a run-off next month and crack down on what he calls Ecuador's corrupt elite.
"The first time that (Chavez) tries to interfere with Ecuadorean affairs, it will be the end our friendship," Correa told reporters during a campaign stop in southern Ecuador. "Neither Chavez nor (U.S. President George W.) Bush will tell us what to do."
Chavez, a constant critic of Washington whose "Bolivarian revolution" is funded in large part by oil sales to the United States, has gained few allies. His vocal support for leading leftists in recent Mexican and Peruvian elections backfired and they lost.
Correa, a 43-year-old U.S.-educated economist, accused the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, of violating human rights. His comments marked a hardening of his position against the neighboring country's guerrillas, who are fighting a four-decade-old war that often spills into Ecuador.
"We fully reject the human rights abuses, the attacks and the bombings by the FARC," Correa said. "If they enter the country they will be pursued, jailed and deported."
With 94.5 percent of Sunday's first round vote counted, Noboa had 26.6 percent compared with Correa's 22.9 percent.
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