A 'yes' vote in a referendum will mean Correa will not be able to join the 2021 election race. Polls show Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno could spell the political death of his former mentor.
Ecuadoreans voted in a referendum on whether to reintroduce term limits to prevent unlimited presidential re-election on Sunday.
The referendum to change the constitution was proposed by President Lenin Moreno (above right) — a move that many saw the president's attempt to prevent Correa (above left), his former mentor, from running for office again amid a bitter political dispute.
Moreno, a wheelchair-bound former vice president elected last year, says the change would help curb corruption in the oil-rich Andean nation.
"Corruption sets in when you have only one government that thinks it will stay on forever," said Moreno during a campaign event in capital Quito.
Around 59 percent of Ecuadoreans plan to vote in favor of limiting re-election, versus some 27 percent who plan to vote against it, according to pollster Opinion Publica Ecuador. A handful of other surveys found a similar trend.
'Lenin Moreno — a traitor'
Correa says the referendum proposed by "traitor" Moreno is aimed at annihilating him politically.
"They're trying to destroy everything that has to do with Correa," he told the Reuters news agency in an interview.
Correa, who has been living in Brussels with his Belgian wife since leaving office, has staged a high-profile campaign against a 'yes' vote.
Term limits for presidents and other officials were scrapped through a 2015 constitutional amendment adopted at the behest of Correa, who served three terms as president from 2007 to 2017.
The rift between Moreno and Correa has led to a deep split in the ruling Alliance PAIS party, with several lawmakers still loyal to the former president.
Correa, an economist, is still well regarded for his welfare policy and an oil-fueled boom at the start of his presidency.
"The margin (of victory) is what has to be looked at. If Lenin Moreno wins by a big margin, he will achieve the fundamental objective of the vote: legitimacy," political expert Simon Pachano said.
Other questions in referendum
The Sunday referendum includes six other questions on issues related to barring officials convicted of corruption from holding public office, banning metal mining and oil drilling in environmentally sensitive areas and removing the statute of limitations for sexual crimes against children.
About 13 million people are eligible to vote in the referendum.
ap/ng (Reuters, AFP, dpa)