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Ecuador declares Mexico ambassador persona non grata, orders her to leave

1 min

Ecuador's government declared Mexico's ambassador to the country unwelcome on Thursday, citing "unfortunate" comments from the Mexican president about Ecuador's violence-plagued elections last year.

Ecuador's President Daniel Noboa, Reuters/Karen Toro/File Photo

Ecuador's government declared Mexico's ambassador to the country unwelcome on Thursday, citing "unfortunate" comments from the Mexican president about Ecuador's violence-plagued elections last year.

Ambassador Raquel Serur Smeke should leave the country "soon," Ecuador's foreign ministry told Reuters, after describing her as "persona non grata" in a statement.

On Wednesday, Mexican leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador commented on the assassination last year of Ecuadorean presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, comparing it with recent violence during Mexico's current election season, with several local candidates having been gunned down.

Mexico's election is slated for June.

In his remarks, Lopez Obrador suggested that a "female candidate" who was leading in the presidential race at one point was unfairly tied to the killing of Villavicencio, and subsequently lost momentum. Obrador went on to blame media that he claimed were corrupt.

Leftist presidential hopeful Luisa Gonzalez, a protégé of ex-President Rafael Correa, lost the October presidential runoff election to Daniel Noboa, winning about 48% of the vote against Noboa's 52%.

Lopez Obrador used the comparison to attack Mexican media outlets, a frequent target of his, in addition to arguing that Villavicencio's slaying led to a "charged atmosphere of violence" that extended throughout the campaign and to the present day.

"I'm talking about this so that owners of media outlets and those who are participating in these campaigns take responsibility," he added.

In its statement, Ecuador's foreign ministry noted that the nation remains in mourning over Villavicencio's assassination, and that its government is committed to the principle of non-intervention in the internal matters of other countries.

Noboa took office in November on a promise to combat drug gangs and tame spiking violence.

Later on Thursday, Correa derided the announcement from Noboa's foreign ministry in a post on X, asking rhetorically: "Is this serious?"

Correa's former vice president, Jorge Glas, has been holed up in Mexico's embassy in Quito since late last year, after prosecutors issued a warrant for his arrest.

(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia and Julia Symmes Cobb; Writing by Kylie Madry; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Leslie Adler)

By Alexandra Valencia

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