Ecuador will hold general elections on Sunday to select the country's president, vice president, 124 assembly members, 221 mayors, 46 governors and vice governors and 1,581 municipal councilors.
The followings are the profiles of the three leading presidential candidates.
-- Incumbent President Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado is the most hopeful to win the race, as recent polls showed that he netted some 50 percent of the voters' support. This means he is likely to secure a straight win rather than has to face a second-round election as long as he captures either a majority of the vote or a plurality of more than 40 percent with a margin of at least 10 percentage points over the second-place candidate.
Born in Guayaquil, Ecuador's second largest city, on April 6, 1963, Correa had a master degree got at Belgium's Catholic University of Lovaina. He studied at the University of Illinois, the United States, from 1999 to 2001 and got a Ph.D. there.
He speaks French, English and some Quechua, a major indigenous language in Ecuador.
He served as the country's economy minister in April-August 2005.
Correa was elected president on Nov. 26, 2006, and took office on Jan. 15, 2007 for a four-year term.
On Sept. 28, 2008, Ecuador's new constitution was approved with a majority of "yes" vote in a referendum. His current four-year term was automatically truncated by the new constitution, which opens the possibility for Correa to be re-elected twice and extend his term till 2017.
In his campaign for Sunday's voting, Correa has vowed to take a hard line with foreign investors if he wins the election.
-- Lucio Edwin Gutierrez Borbuda, candidate of the Patriotic Society Party, has a support rate of between 15 percent and 17 percent as was shown by recent polls.
Born in Quito, capital of Ecuador, on March 23, 1957, Gutierrez had studied at the Military College Eloy Alfaro of Quito, the National War Institute of Ecuadorian Armed Forces and the U.S. Inter-American Defense College. He also studied at the War Academy of Ecuadorian Land Forces.
He ran for presidency in 2002 as the candidate of the Jan. 21 Patriotic Society Party and defeated billionaire Alvaro Noboa in the second round. He took office on Jan. 15, 2003 for a four-year term.
But on April 20, 2005, amid strong social protests against Gutierrez's government, the Congress voted to remove Gutierrez from office on grounds that he abandoned his constitutional duties, appointing Vice President Alfredo Palacio to serve as president.
Four days later, Gutierrez arrived in Brazil, then he went to Peru and the United States. In September 2005, he was reported to be seeking asylum in Colombia. But one month later he returned to Ecuador, vowing to "use all legal and constitutional means to retake power."
He was immediately arrested upon his arrival in Ecuador on charges of attempting to subvert Ecuador's internal security by repeatedly proclaiming to the international media that he continued to be the country's legitimate head of state.
Gutierrez was set free on March 3, 2006, after a judge dismissed the charges against him.
Gutierrez, in his campaign this time, said he will keep the dollar as the local currency, create more jobs, reform the Transportation Law, establish a land bank and reduce credit interests.
-- Alvaro Noboa, candidate of the Renewed National Institutional Action Party, has received a support rate of some 12 percent in his fourth efforts to be president.
As Ecuador's wealthiest man, he was born in November 1950 also in Guayaquil. He attended the Institute of Le Rosey in Switzerland, which is famous for educating the children of the richest people in the world, and later entered the Guayaquil State University and graduated as a lawyer. He also took Business Administration courses at the American Management Association in New York.
He has been actively involved in politics, running for president in 1998, 2002 and 2006. In 2007 he was elected national assemblyman.
Noboa said he will, if elected, set a model of free economy with incentives to national and foreign investors, and create a majority middle class in the country.