Ecuador's Election Ends In Close Result, And Accusations Of Cheating


Right-wing opposition candidate Guillermo Lasso alleged fraud in Ecuador's presidential runoff election, vowing to contest results that had his rival Lenin Moreno extending a decade of socialist rule.

With almost 99 percent of the ballots accounted for, Moreno snagged 51.16 percent of the vote to 48.84 percent for Lasso, according to several Ecuadoran media outlets that cite the election agency.

But both men claimed victory ahead of the final results, with Lasso citing a key exit poll by the Cedatos firm showing him winning by a comfortable margin.

Back in February, leftist leaning Lenin Moreno, former deputy to the outgoing, left-wing President Rafael Correa (and Correa's hand-picked successor), did not receive the super majority needed to defeat his conservative opponent, Guillermo Lasso, a pro-business former banker, in an eight-way first round.

"A banker can not care about poverty", said 81 year-old government supporter Hugo Moreno as he smoked a cigarette at a bus stop in cloudy Andean capital Quito.

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"We're not going to allow it", he said, accusing President Rafael Correa of trying to install an "illegitimate" government.

Assange responded to the result with a pointed remark at Lasso.

Voters in Latin America have been swinging rightwards, with recent wins in Brazil and Argentina for conservative candidates challenging leftist governments in the region.

Moreno had 51.07% of the vote as compared to Lasso's 48.93% with 94.2% of district votes counted, National Electoral Council said.

"We will continue to protest in the streets until each vote is counted individually" Enrique Herreria, lawyer and Lasso aide said during a TV interview with Ecuavisa. "Peacefully defend your vote", Lasso told supporters. Lasso also called into question why it took hours for the second-round results to be released when it took several days for the first-round results to be released.

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is celebrating the results of Ecuador's presidential runoff by inviting the apparent loser who pledged to evict him from Ecuador's embassy in London to take leave of his own country instead.

Local media reported that clashes between supporters of the Ecuador's opposition and police also erupted near the National Electoral Council's building in Quito.

Assange waded into the electoral fray Sunday, congratulating Moreno and tweeting: "I cordially invite Lasso to leave Ecuador within 30 days (with or without his tax haven millions)".

He will be under pressure to create jobs and crack down on graft amid corruption scandals at state-run oil company PetroEcuador and Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht.

Moreno, who lost the use of his legs two decades ago when he was shot during a robbery, would become a rare head of state to use a wheelchair when he takes office on May 24. "Everyone will have a new opportunity and we will seek dialogue and harmony", said Moreno.

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