With 96 percent of the vote counted in Ecuador's presidential election on Sunday, Lenín Moreno of leftist President Rafael Correa's ruling party is beating conservative banker Guillermo Lasso, 51 percent to 49 percent. Lasso, who led comfortably in well-regarded exit polls, charged election fraud and urged his supporters to protest peacefully. Lasso and Moreno have both declared victory, but with 214,000 votes left to count, according to the National Electoral Council, there are twice as many outstanding votes as Moreno's winning margin.
Clashes have been reported in Quito and several other cities, and Lasso supporters broke through metal barricades outside the election commission before being pushed back by police. "Fight!" Lasso, 61, told his supporters. "We won't let them cheat us!" National Electoral President Juan Pablo Pozo, a target of criticism on the right, urged calm. "Ecuador deserves that its political actors show ethical responsibility in recognizing the democratic will expressed by the people at the voting booths," he said. "Not a single vote has been given or taken away from anyone." Moreno fell just short of a 50 percent majority in the first round of voting on Feb. 19.
Ecuador, like several other South American countries, has been led by leftist leaders for the past decade — Correa was term-limited out after 10 years — and the election was seen as a test of the Latin American left, after conservatives were recently elected in Argentina and Peru. Moreno, 64, was shot in a 1998 carjacking, and if his win is confirmed, he will be the first Latin American leader to use a wheelchair. Moreno's victory would also be a win for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange; Lasso had pledged to kick him out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, while Moreno said he will allow him to stay.