Ecuador looks to runoff vote for president in April

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Presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso, representing the Creating Opportunities party or CREO, flashes a thumbs up after attending an event with rival Yaku Perez, of the Pachakutik political party, in which both are asking for a ballot recount of Sunday's election, in Quito, Ecuador, Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. It remains undecided which of the two has the votes to advance to the run-off race in April to face frontrunner Andres Arauz. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)

QUITO – Final results from a Feb. 7 presidential election in Ecuador confirmed that former banker Guillermo Lasso came second behind leading candidate Andrés Arauz, meaning the two will contest a runoff vote in April, election officials said Sunday.

Lasso, who had lost the last two presidential contests, won 19.74% of votes in the election while Indigenous candidate Yaku Pérez came third with 19.38% after all votes were counted, the National Electoral Council said. Just 32,600 votes separated the two candidates.

Pérez alleged fraud after the results that indicated he had fallen just short of defeating Lasso and making it to the runoff.

The council “may declare fraudulent electoral results, but the true results are in the hearts of Ecuadorians who supported a new political project that reflects the dreams of a dignified and honest Ecuador,” Pérez tweeted.

The attorney general's office has said it is investigating the allegations.

“Democracy has triumphed,” Lasso tweeted after the final results. He has had a long career in business, banking and government and favors free-market policies and Ecuador’s rapprochement with international organizations.

Arauz led with 32.72%, a frontrunner status that became clear in partial results and only left open the question of who he would face in the April 11 runoff after the tight race for second place.

Arauz, who is backed by ex-President Rafael Correa, has proposed making the wealthy pay more taxes, strengthening consumer protections, public banking and local credit and savings organizations. He also says he wants to back away from agreements with the International Monetary Fund.

Indigenous communities led protests in October 2019 that forced Ecuador’s government to back down on a move to end fuel subsidies.

The electoral mission of the Organization of American States said any parties that are dissatisfied with the announced results can file administrative and jurisdictional appeals, as long as they have evidence of inconsistencies and irregularities.