Ecuador socialist wins presidency, rival cries foul

Socialist Lenin Moreno was set to extend a decade of leftist rule in Ecuador on Monday, April 3 after official results showed him winning the presidential election, as his conservative rival cried foul, AFP reports.

Both candidates claimed victory on the basis of conflicting exit polls from Sunday’s runoff, but with 96.94 percent of districts reporting the National Electoral Council said that Moreno — the designated heir to President Rafael Correa’s “21st-century socialism” — won 51.12 percent of the vote against 48.88 percent for ex-banker Guillermo Lasso.

The election was closely watched as a barometer of the political climate in Latin America, where more than a decade of leftist dominance has been waning.

It may also decide the fate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy since 2012.

Lasso however alleged fraud, claiming that his campaign had evidence of an attempt to rig the results.

“We are going to defend the will of the Ecuadoran people in the face of an attempted fraud that aims to install what would be an illegitimate government,” Lasso said, setting up what could be a long and ugly fight.

Some Lasso supporters protested outside election offices in Quito and other cities demanding transparency in the vote count.

“We will continue this process that has changed Ecuadorans’ lives, especially for the poorest citizens,” the triumphant Moreno, a charismatic wheelchair-bound politico paralyzed in a 1998 carjacking, told supporters.

He then launched into an exuberant victory party at which he regaled the crowd with his singing, belting out Latin classics alongside Correa.

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