(Adds details on protests, fresh quote, factbox link)
By Alexandra Ulmer and Alexandra Valencia
QUITO, April 2 Leftist government candidate
Lenin Moreno claimed victory in Ecuador's presidential vote on
Sunday, bucking a shift to the right in South America, but the
conservative challenger asked for a recount as some supporters
took to the streets in protest.
A Moreno win would come as a relief for Wikileaks founder
Julian Assange after Guillermo Lasso vowed to remove him from
the Ecuadorean embassy in London if he won the runoff.
It would also give a boost to a struggling leftist movement
in South America, as right-leaning governments have come to
power in Argentina, Brazil, and Peru recently as a commodities
boom ended, economies flagged and corruption scandals grew.
The region's de facto leftist leader, President Nicolas
Maduro of crisis-hit Venezuela, profusely tweeted his
congratulations to Moreno. Lasso, a former banker, had promised
to denounce the embattled Maduro, who foes say lurched the
country toward dictatorship this week.
Moreno, a paraplegic former vice-president, had secured 51.1
percent of the votes compared to Lasso's 48.9 percent, with just
over 95 percent of votes counted, according to the electoral
council. It has not yet declared a winner.
A bitter Lasso, who had earlier proclaimed himself
victorious based on a top pollster's exit poll, disputed the
results that would extend a decade-long leftist rule in oil-rich
"They've crossed a line," he told supporters amassed in a
hotel in his coastal hometown of Guayaquil, asking for a recount
and vowing to challenge the results.
"We're going to defend the will of the Ecuadorean people in
the face of this fraud attempt."
Lasso contrasted Sunday's fast results with the first round
of the election in February, when a final tally took days to
come out and his supporters gathered in front of the electoral
council to guard against what they said were fraud attempts.
Hundreds of Lasso supporters again swarmed in front of the
electoral council offices in the capital Quito and Guayaquil,
waving yellow, blue and red Ecuadorean flags and chanting "No to
fraud!" and "We don't want to be Venezuela!"
There were reports of isolated clashes, but protests lost
intensity as the night went on and people went home.
Moreno, who has been in a wheelchair since losing the use of
his legs two decades ago after being shot during a robbery,
would become one of the world's rare presidents to use a
wheelchair if he takes office on May 24.
"Lenin," as he is commonly referred to by his supporters,
celebrated in mountainous Quito on Sunday night.
"We're going to keep building the path, we've done a lot but
there's a lot more to do!" he told flag-waving supporters,
flanked by running mate and current vice-president, Jorge Glas,
and a beaming outgoing President Rafael Correa, before breaking
into several songs including one about Argentine revolutionary
Ernesto "Che" Guevara.
A former U.N. envoy on disability, Moreno has a more
conciliatory style than fiery Correa and has promised benefits
for single mothers, the elderly, and disabled Ecuadoreans.
He would face strong pressure to create jobs amid an
economic downturn and crack down on graft amid corruption
scandals at state-run oil company PetroEcuador and Brazilian
Lasso has criticized Moreno as ill-equipped on the economic
front and warned his major social promises would hit already
pressured coffers in the country dependent on exports of oil,
bananas, and shrimp.
Moreno's supporters, in turn, have decried Lasso's plans,
warning that he would slash welfare benefits and govern for the
rich across a nation that stretches from Andean plateaus to the
The ruling Country Alliance on Sunday said results were
"The revolution has triumphed again in Ecuador," tweeted
Correa, who has said he will move to Belgium, where his wife is
from, when he leaves office. "The right has lost, despite its
millions and its media."
(Additional reporting by Yury Garcia, Daniel Tapia, and Henry
Romero in Guayaquil and Jose Llangari and Mariana Bazo in Quito;
Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Girish Gupta, Mary
Milliken and Michael Perry)