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Anti-media president re-elected in Ecuador

Published:Tuesday | February 26, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Ecuador's president Rafael Correa

Rafael Correa, who has waged many battles with the private media in Ecuador, has won an unprecedented third term as that country's head, after serving six years in office.

Correa has repeatedly described the private media as his "greatest enemy" and a major obstacle to implementing reforms.

Correa came to international attention after offering asylum to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who remains at the Ecuadorean embassy in London. It's reported that he often uses his weekly radio and TV shows as a platform to attack the media, and he also uses a law that requires them to carry government messages as a way of directly confronting his critics.

International human rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch have reportedly long criticised Correa for using his presidential powers to browbeat antagonist media outlets and curtail the right to freedom of speech.

In 2011, three executives and a former columnist from an opposition newspaper, El Universo, were sentenced to jail terms and a massive fine for libelling President Correa.

fighting media 'dictatorship'

He subsequently pardoned them, saying his aim had been to fight the "dictatorship of the media".

In 2012, Reporters Without Borders highlighted the closure of some dozen broadcasting outlets that were critical of the government.

Correa describes himself as "left-wing - not from the Marxist left, but rather a Christian left". The 49-year-old leader came to power making much of the fact that he was not a traditional politician, and while in office he has sought to overhaul Ecuador's political structure and boost social spending.

He has also defaulted on foreign loans and clashed with Washington on several issues.