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Lenin Moreno declared winner in Ecuador’s presidential race

Ecuador’s now-President-elect Lenin Moreno gives the “V for victory” sign as he listens to the first results of the runoff election, in Quito, April 2, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Ecuador’s ruling party candidate Lenin Moreno, a paraplegic, has been declared the winner of the presidential runoff in the Latin American country and is expected to provide continuity to President Rafael Correa’s leftist policies.

With more than 94 percent of the votes counted, the National Electoral Council on Sunday announced Moreno the winner with 51 percent.

His rival, conservative banker Guillermo Lasso, was closely behind with 49 percent of the votes.

In the first round of the election on February 19, Lasso had bagged 28.25 percent of the votes and Moreno 39 .31 percent.

Sixty four-year-old Moreno follows the leftist line of the government of President Correa, 53, who has served in that capacity since 2007. During the election campaign, Moreno promised to continue the policies set by Correa.

Ecuador’s incumbent President Rafael Correa (L) hugs President-elect Lenin Moreno as they listen to the results of the runoff election, in Quito,

The outgoing president, a democratic socialist, had focused on the implementation of left-wing policies. Internationally, he was an outspoken critic of the United States. He permitted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been taking refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, to stay there to avoid potential extradition to the US, where he is sought for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret US military and diplomatic documents in 2010.

Right-wing Lasso, 61, had in his presidential election campaign promised to “cordially ask Assange to leave within 30 days of assuming a mandate” if he won.

Meanwhile, as Moreno’s supporters celebrated his victory, Lasso’s camp claimed there had been electoral fraud and threatened to challenge the results in all of Ecuador’s 24 provinces.

Thousands of Lasso supporters shouted “fraud” as they stormed the National Electoral Council’s headquarters in the capital, Quito, before being pushed back by police. A similar scuffle took place outside the electoral offices in Guayaquil.

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