Leftist Moreno heading to dispute win in Ecuador election

For its part, the private NGO Citizen Participation announced the investigation of a quick count, which did not yield results, but its president Ruth Hidalgo said there was "a technical tie" with a difference of 0.6 percent.

Following the release of the first official report asserting Moreno was leading the vote, the loser candidate Lasso said he would impugned the results and demand a recount.

Around 8.30 p.m. local time (7.30 p.m. ET) Moreno declared himself the victor, but shortly that after a nongovernmental organization that had been monitoring the result said that it was a virtual tie.

Boosted by high prices for its oil exports, Ecuador registered solid economic growth averaging 4.4 percent per year during the first eight years of Correa's presidency, before tipping into recession in mid-2015.

While no official announcement has yet been made by the CNE, the body said that Moreno was ahead by 2 percentage points and the trend was irreversible. Electoral authorities have also beefed up security outside the National Electoral Council.

Lasso, a former banker, had promised to denounce the embattled Maduro, who foes say has lurched his country toward dictatorship.

For his part, Lasso said tonight in statements to local television that he does not accept the results and that he will contest them. "We will not allow a distortion of the popular will". Lasso asked for a recount and vowed to challenge the results, a complex process that could take time.

"We have completely accurate data". "We have won the elections".




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!" "Welcome fighters of peace and of life".

The head of the National Electoral Council called on the candidates to recognize the results.

"'My first action as acting President will be to sign the FTA, ' he said with a laugh", according to the cable published by WikiLeaks. "The moral fraud committed by the right will not go unpunished".

Yet in the final weeks of the race, Moreno had inched ahead in polls amid an aggressive campaign led by Correa to cast Lasso as a wealthy, out-of-touch politician who profited from the country's 1999 banking crisis.

A more stern-faced Moreno warned against pre-emptive celebrations by his rival and said that his supporters mobilized throughout Ecuador would make sure the results are expected.

"Let's act in a peaceful but firm manner", Lasso's tweet read.

Voters in Latin America have been swinging rightwards, with recent wins in Brazil and Argentina for conservative candidates challenging leftist governments in the region. "Democracy won today; Ecuador won today", he told a large joyous rally.

He permitted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been taking refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, to stay there to avoid potential extradition to the United States, where he is sought for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret United States military and diplomatic documents in 2010.

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