Lenín Moreno wins tight Ecuador presidential race

QUITO – Lenín Moreno has emerged as Ecuador’s new leader even as recount of nearly 1.3m votes cast in the Andean nation’s presidential election is due today.

The National Electoral Council announced earlier this week it would recount all ballots contested by both parties, about 10% of the total vote.

Official results from the 2 April election showed conservative former banker Lasso lost by less than three percent points to President Rafael Correa’s handpicked successor, Lenín Moreno.

International observers including the Organization of American States (OAS) have said they found no irregularities, though opposition leader Guillermo Lasso claims his campaign found numerous inconsistencies and has refused to accept the official results.

Ecuador’s election was closely watched in Latin America as an indicator of whether the region would continue to shift right after recent conservative wins in countries including Peru and Argentina.

Lasso, a former banker, had promised to denounce the embattled Maduro, who foes say has lurched his country toward dictatorship.

Moreno has said he would let Assange stay. “Lenin”, as he is commonly referred to by his supporters, celebrated in mountainous Quito on Sunday night.

Assange, who enraged Washington by publishing a flood of secret US diplomatic cables, entered the London embassy fearing that Sweden could end up sending him on to the United States where he could face a long prison term for leaking U.S. secrets.

The centre-right Creating Opportunities candidate Lasso took on Moreno of the socialist PAIS Alliance party in the closely contested election.

The vote count dragged on for several days before the official results were announced, provoking accusations of fraud from both sides and angry protests that have injected an unusual degree of volatility in the election results.

Correa, an economist, has ruled Ecuador since 2007 and is one of the longest standing leaders in Latin America. The group refrained from saying which candidate had the advantage.

Lasso anticipated he won the election so he declared victory prior to the CNE announcement.

Going forward, Moreno’s party has control of Congress, but he will need to cultivate support from many in the polarized country who view his narrow win with suspicion. “We have more opportunities now”, he said.

The recount is to take place today (April 18) in capital city Quito.