Former Vice President Lenin Moreno has claimed a win in the presidential runoff ballot amid calls for a recount from his conservative challenger. The calls set the stage for protests in the historically turbulent nation.
With 92.67 percent of votes counted, Ecuador's electoral council said late on Sunday that leftist former Vice President Lenin Moreno (pictured above) was leading the the country's presidential election with 51.07 percent of the votes.
Conservative former banker Guillermo Lasso's followed behind in second on 48.93 percent.
Addressing supporters in the mountainous capital Quito, Moreno said: "From now on, let's work for the country! All of us!"
Lasso, meanwhile, claimed that he was the real winner of the vote and demanded a recount.
"They've toyed with popular will," he said.
In later statements, Lasso also claimed his campaign had evidence of an attempt to rig Sunday's 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," he said, setting up what could be a long and ugly fight.
The outcome of Sunday's election was surrounded by much confusion earlier in the evening, with several conflicting exit polls in the second round vote leading to both candidates declaring themselves victorious.
While Ecuadorian broadcaster Gama TV published projections from Perfiles de Opinion, which put Moreno in front with 52.2 percent, newspaper "La Hora" cited projections from Institut Cedatos, which showed conservative Lasso ahead with 53 percent.
Moreno, the candidate of the ruling PAIS alliance and designated heir to President Rafael Correa's "21st-century socialism," fell just short of the necessary 40 per cent and 10-point-lead to win outright in February's first round in which he secured 39.36 percent of the vote.
Lasso won 28.9 percent in the first round.
A Lasso defeat would likely come as a relief for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Lasso had said ahead of Sunday's election that he would evict Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London within 30 days of taking office. Assange has been holed up at embassy in the UK capital since 2012.
Ecuador's election on Sunday has been widely billed as an indicator of the political climate in Latin America, where more than a decade of leftist dominance has been waning amid a a string of conservative victories.
Argentina, Brazil and Peru have all lurched to the right in recent months, as the region has drifted into recession and leftist leaders have been tarnished by a string of corruption scandals.
ksb/gsw (Reuters, AFP, dpa)