Ecuador's Foreign Ministry has protested to Argentina over "inopportune statements" made by Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, after Argentina's vice-president expressed concern over a presumed lack of democracy in the country.
Quito said remarks issued by the former president were "an unacceptable intervention" into its "domestic affairs."
Just before the weekend Fernández de Kirchner, a friend and ally of Ecuador's previous leftist president Rafael Correa (2007-2017) posted on Twitter a photograph with the caption: "Together with Andrés Arauz Galarza, the banned until now presidential candidate in Ecuador for the Unión por la Esperanza alliance," adding: "Can [President] Lenín Moreno seriously expect the rest of the world to believe that there is democracy in Ecuador?"
The handpicked heir of Correa (now bitterly at odds with Moreno even though all three belong to the same party), Arauz is his presidential nominee for next February’s elections but his candidacy has yet to be confirmed by the electoral authorities due to the legality of his party alliance being challenged.
But the National Electoral Council (CNE, in its Spanish acronym) has already registered 15 other presidential slates.
In its communiqué the Foreign Ministry deplored "the inopportune statements issued by Madame Vice-President on the occasion of her meeting with the Ecuadorean citizen Andrés Arauz Galarza en Buenos Aires, questioning democracy in Ecuador."
The Foreign Ministry added that the Argentine vice-president's words "are an unacceptable intervention in the domestic affairs of Ecuador" and that "unlike in the past," the Moreno government has shown respect for the rule of law and the separation of powers.
The CNE "has the attributes to direct the elections and guarantee suffrage by registering and monitoring the political parties and movements," the communiqué added.
The Foreign Ministry noted that Ecuador values the ties of friendship and co-operation which it has historically maintained with Argentina.
Quito concluded that "it has the will and interest that things stay that way with the government of President Alberto Fernández in order to work together in those issues which unite us and those of mutual concern."