Socialist candidate Lenin Moreno appears to have won Ecuador's presidential elections, but his conservative rival is refusing to back down. Guillermo Lasso is demanding a recount, claiming the vote was marred by fraud.
Supporters of Guillermo Lasso protested in the capital, Quito, for a second night on Monday, echoing their candidate's calls for votes to be recounted.
"I'm warning the world that in Ecuador procedures are being violated, and they're trying to swear in an illegitimate government," Lasso said. "This is a clumsy fraud attempt."
Addressing a crowd of a few thousand supporters outside the National Electoral Council, Lasso said "We're not afraid of the miserable cowards who are on the wrong side of history." The scenes were more muted than protests on Sunday - election evening - when thousands of Lasso supporters chanted "fraud" through the night.
Lasso shared images of the protests on his Twitter feed, saying: "All of you are like the majority of Ecuadoreans who voted for a change. Thank you for your support, thank you for your confidence."
Both Lasso and his leftist challenger, Lenin Moreno, had declared victory in the presidential runoff on Sunday night based on the conflicting results of several different exit polls. But official results released by the electoral council later in the night put Moreno in front. Figures published Monday showed Moreno secured 51.17 percent of the vote compared to Lasso's 48.83 percent, with 99 percent of ballots counted.
Juan Pablo Pozo, president of the electoral council, confirmed Moreno's election win in a nationwide broadcast on Tuesday. He said the results were "official, irreversible" with 99.65 percent of the votes counted.
Pozo said Moreno won slightly over 51 percent of the vote, compared with 49 percent for opposition challenger Lasso.
Allegations of fraud
Lasso, a former banker, has vowed to challenge the result. He says that his campaign witnessed a number of voting irregularities, including electoral officials allegedly altering votes that were originally for him.
"We won't fold our arms and stand by," he said on Twitter. "We will exhaust all political and legal channels in Ecuador and abroad to respect the will of the people who called for a change."
Late Monday he lodged a complaint with the Organization of American States (OAS,) which has an observation mission in Ecuador. The country's election authority denies the fraud allegations.
Lasso's only evidence of vote tampering was a single voting act of 248 ballots from a rural area whose
tally he says was reversed in favor of Moreno when official results were computed. The OAS said its mission of observers visited 480 voting centers and found no discrepancies between the tallies and the official results.
A boost for the left
Moreno, meanwhile, declared victory in a speech in front of Quito's presidential palace. The 64-year-old paraplegic former vice president was hand-picked by outgoing President Rafael Correos. In his acceptance address he thanked the poor and vowed to work towards finding solutions for pressing social problems like homelessness and illiteracy.
Moreno's victory extends a decade of leftist rule in the oil-rich Andean nation of 16 million, and comes in the wake of a number of recent wins for right-leaning governments in Argentina, Peru and Brazil.
Venezuela's embattled Socialist leader Nicolas Maduro congratulated Moreno on Twitter, stating that "the citizen's revolution has triumphed!"
Bolivia's President Evo Morales did the same, writing "21st century Socialism always triumphs."
The result was also a relief for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, whom Lasso had vowed to expel from Ecuador's London embassy if elected.
nm/jm (Reuters, AP, dpa)