Ecuador's ex-president Rafael Correa on Saturday kicked off his battle for the support of the ruling party faithful, against President Lenin Moreno.
Correa, who preceded Moreno in office, retired to his wife's native Belgium only to return initially in late November to battle Moreno for control of the PAIS party.
Supporters of Correa, a leftist economist by training, say he plans to remain in the country at least until the February 4 referendum, in which Moreno wants a "yes" vote that would, among other questions, restore term limits to prevent presidents from running indefinitely.
"No, No, absolutely NO," Correa chanted to supporters who turned out to rally in a Guayaquil area park.
Correa ally Vice President Jorge Glas was jailed last month for six years for graft after being found guilty of receiving $13.5 million in kickbacks from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.
Correa had maintained that Glas was a "political prisoner" and that there was no evidence against him. He claimed the conviction was nothing more than a way for Moreno to strengthen his hand and seize control of the vice president's office.
The ex-president has refused to rule out running in the 2021 presidential election to avenge what he has called the "betrayal" by his former supporter Moreno.