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Ecuador leftist Moreno leads presidential vote
February 21, 2017
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QUITO: Ecuadorean leftist government candidate Lenin Moreno was set for victory in a presidential election but results still coming in on Monday meant he may face a runoff with former banker Guillermo Lasso.

In a nail-biter vote with eight candidates, Moreno was close to the threshold needed to avoid a second round on April 2 and continue a decade-long period of leftist rule, just as South America is moving to the right.

While Ecuadoreans are angry over an economic downturn and corruption scandals, the opposition split its votes among candidates and the ruling Country Alliance remains popular with many poor voters, thanks to social welfare programs.

As results trickled in from Ecuador’s Andes, jungle, and Pacific coast, Moreno, a disabled former vice president, was just short of the 40 per cent of votes and a 10-percentage-point difference over his nearest rival to win outright.

He had 39.09 per cent of valid votes versus 28.28 per cent for Guillermo Lasso, with 87 per cent of votes counted, the official preliminary election count showed.

Government supporters said votes from pro-government provinces and Ecuadoreans abroad would propel Moreno, 63, past the crucial 40 per cent mark.

But Lasso, 61, was already celebrating reaching the second round in his humid hometown of Guayaquil by the Pacific Coast under a stream of confetti.

Another opposition candidate, Cynthia Viteri, who was running third in Sunday’s count, said she would back Lasso in an April runoff.

If other opposition parties follow suit as expected, that could sweep him to victory.

“With all the other (opposition) candidates, we will construct that unity Ecuadoreans so wish for,” Lasso said, anticipating that support in April.

With results coming in slower than expected, a couple of hundred opposition supporters congregated in front of the electoral council headquarters in Quito to demand a speedier and more transparent count.

“We’re not Cuba or Venezuela, out with Correa!” they chanted.

Outgoing President Rafael Correa was one of the key figures in Latin America’s leftist axis that includes Caracas and Havana.

He brought stability to the politically turbulent OPEC country but has aggravated many with his confrontational style.

Reuters

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