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FACTBOX-Top opposition candidates in Ecuador's presidential race

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Jan 25 (Reuters) - Ecuador's President Rafael Correa is the clear favorite to win a Feb. 17 election against a fractured opposition.

Here are some details on the top opposition candidates:

GUILLERMO LASSO

Polls show the former head of Banco de Guayaquil, Ecuador's No. 2 bank, is the top challenger to Correa. The most recent survey by pollster Cedatos, published in December, shows him taking 22 percent of the vote.

He is a fresh face in the political arena whom many undecided voters say they would consider backing.

But Lasso, 57, may face stigma associated with being a banker. Ecuadoreans blame banks for a 1999 financial crisis that forced Ecuador to adopt the dollar as currency the following year. Hundreds of thousands lost part of their savings.

Lasso is running on a platform of boosting job creation by lowering taxes and providing incentives to private investors.

LUCIO GUTIERREZ

A former army major who took part in a coup that overthrew Jamil Mahuad in 2000, Gutierrez was elected president in 2002 but was deposed after social unrest in 2005.

He leads the Patriotic Society Party, which has strong support in Amazon areas and has a disciplined campaign team. Gutierrez, 55, also is seen as having strong support within the army and the police.

Cedatos shows him receiving 10 percent of the vote, but that may be an underestimate as his support is strongest in remote rural areas.

ALBERTO ACOSTA

An economist and academic, Acosta was a close friend and political ally of Correa until the two parted ways in 2008.

Acosta is a founder of the ruling Alianza Pais party and the former head of an assembly that rewrote Ecuador's constitution in 2008. He has accused Correa of betraying the party's socialist roots and "moving right."

He heads an alliance of leftist parties and grassroots movements that is critical of Correa's drive to attract foreign investment into the oil and mining sectors, which he considers a threat to the environment.

He is likely to chip away support for Correa among minority groups including indigenous people in the Amazon and the Andes and people of African descent in coastal areas. Cedatos' latest poll shows him receiving 8 percent of the vote.

ALVARO NOBOA

A wealthy banana magnate well-known throughout Ecuador, Noboa is running for president for the fifth time. Polls show him with barely 1 percent of the vote.

Noboa points out polls showed him trailing in the 2006 election but he defeated Correa in the first round.

The line between Noboa's party, PRIAN, and his companies, is blurry. Some executives also are leading party members.

Noboa will campaign on a platform of higher education spending and support for the private sector. He is known for his eccentric campaign style, which has included offers to raffle off houses and company jobs to supporters. He chose his wife, Annabella Azin, as his running mate.

Noboa is battling authorities over a multimillion dollar back tax bill the government says one of his companies owes. He says the claim is absurd and part of a campaign of political persecution meant to keep him out of politics. (Reporting by Eduardo Garcia; Editing by Jackie Frank)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130125/factbox-top-opposition-candidates-ecuadors-presidential-race