Ecuadorian president to step down if links to rebels are proved

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said Saturday in Lima that he is willing to step down from power if it is proved that his government has backed the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Correa made this comment amid allegations by Colombian authorities that FARC - who hold hostage former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and over 700 others - may have given funds to Correa's presidential campaign and that the government in Quito may have granted protection to the rebels.

"If they prove that, I put my position in the hands of the Ecuadorian people," Correa said.

The allegations are based on the contents of computers seized on March 1, following a cross-border raid by Colombian forces on Ecuadorian territory. FARC number two Raul Reyes was killed in the operation, along with 25 other people including one Ecuadorian citizen.

On Thursday, Interpol confirmed that the laptop computers have not been tampered with since they were seized, although the organization did not comment on their contents.

Colombian officials have said that the computers hold files that refere to the alleged support that Venezuelan and Ecuadorian authorities gave FARC, as well as rebel plans to expand in the region.

Correa stressed that the international community would not have any reason to believe what the rebels say, even if they said such things.

"Do we or do we not believe FARC?" he asked.

Correa complained that Colombian authorities consider false the accusations that FARC make against Uribe but believe rebel comments on Ecuador.

"Well, we have to believe it when FARC say they financed my campaign, but we also have to believe what FARC say about Uribe's ties with the paramilitaries and drug traffickers," he said at the end of his stay in Lima.

Correa - who on Friday attended the European Union-Latin America and the Caribbean summit alongside Uribe and scores of other leaders - said he asked the Organization of American States to carry out a probe to establish whether the allegations against him are true, dpa reported.

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