June 29, 2017

Ecuador's bishops call for transparency in elections

23 February 2017, 12:54 | Simon Arnold

The election results from Sunday's vote were expected to be released on Monday, but Ecuador's National Electoral Council, or CNE, delayed the official results until Wednesday or Thursday, saying it was not yet certain in the close contest whether a run-off would be needed.

With over 50 percent of the ballots counted, Moreno, a disabled former vice president, secured some 38.26 percent of the vote, compared to around 29.86 percent cast for Lasso.

Moreno is followed by a representative of the CREO center-right movement, former banker Guillermo Lasso in the second place and Cynthia Viteri who represents the right-wing Social Christian Party.

The Andean country will hold a second-round of voting April 2, an election that will be closely watched in Latin America as Moreno faces off against Lasso, a conservative former banker.

The president of the CNE revealed at a press conference in Quito that the remaining votes will not have a decisive impact.

Opposition protesters had massed in front of the electoral council headquarters in mountainous capital Quito since Sunday to denounce what they say were fraud attempts.

Mr Moreno was critical of Mr Lasso's call for Ecuadoreans to take to the streets if there was no second round.

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"We know that the projections could give us victory in the first round".

Pre-election polls had suggested that no candidate was likely to get enough votes to win the first round.

The region has shifted to the right over the last 18 months as conservatives won power in Argentina, Brazil and Peru after the end of a commodities boom that had boosted leftists like Correa.

Among Lasso's pledges is one to withdraw asylum rights from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in Londonsince June 2012.

The analysts speculated that the delay in announcing the vote result would help unify opposition support for Lasso. While Correa has been praised for reducing inequality and overhauling Ecuador's infrastructure, opinion polls said a majority of Ecuadoreans favor change.

The sheen on his administration also has been tarnished as once-flush government budgets were cut and thousands of employees at state-run companies laid off amid a decline in oil revenues for the OPEC nation. The International Monetary Fund expects Ecuador's economy to shrink 2.7 percent this year, and analysts predict the new president will have to seek a bailout from the Washington-based IMF to address financial problems made worse by last year's 7.8 magnitude natural disaster. "That cannot be tolerated, we are a country of peace, we have learned to live in peace and we want to continue like this", said Moreno. "We've had to endure bad attacks that can't be justified just because of the heat of an election".

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