QUITO – Former President Rafael Correa said on Thursday that it will be several years before he can consider moving back to Ecuador from his wife’s native Belgium, where the family relocated in July after the end of his mandate.
Correa, 54, is in Quito to take part in this weekend’s convention of the party he founded, Alianza Pais (Country Alliance), currently torn by a conflict between his followers and those of his successor as president, Lenin Moreno.
“For very profound family reasons, I cannot return to Ecuador to live in the next few years,” he told a press conference in the capital, adding that he is scheduled to fly back to Belgium next week.
He said that after 10 years as president, he left office in May with a plan to retire from politics, but found himself compelled to respond to “treachery” on the part of Moreno.
The two men fell out early in the new administration and relations grew even worse after Moreno complained of inheriting a critical economic situation from his predecessor.
Allies of Correa, who holds the title of life president of the center-left Alianza Pais, recently tried to oust Moreno from the party chairmanship, but a court intervened to block the move.
“We are fighting against a monster with a thousand heads,” Correa said Thursday. “We were deceived, we were swindled.”
He will preside over the party convention set to begin Sunday in the northwestern province of Esmeraldas, which was called by leaders of the Correa faction, including former Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño and one-time congressional speaker Gabriela Rivadeneira.
A week ago, Moreno carried out a purge of the party’s national directorate, removing Rivadeneira and Patiño from senior posts.
Moreno’s policies as president are “destroying” the party’s political project, known as the Citizens’ Revolution, Correa said.
Correa said that if the Moreno faction takes control of the party, he would to leave Alianza Pais “because I won’t be an accomplice to this.”
During his decade in office, the US-trained economist presided over a reduction in poverty and a general improvement in living standards for the majority of Ecuadorians.
He survived a police mutiny that his government characterized as an attempted coup and twice won re-election.