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Leftist Moreno wins Ecuador presidency

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Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa (R) celebrates in advance with a birthday cake his April 6 anniversary, next to President elect Lenin Moreno (out of frame) and Vice-president-elect Jorge Glas (L), at the Carondelet presidential palace, during the exchange of guard ceremony in Quito on April 3, 2017.
Socialist Lenin Moreno on Monday celebrated victory in his bid to extend a decade of leftist rule in Ecuador but faced allegations of voting fraud from his conservative rival. Victory for the 64-year-old Moreno, a wheelchair user and political champion of disability rights, would be good news for the Latin American left, which is in decline. RODRIGO BUENDIA / AFP

Socialist Lenin Moreno won Ecuador’s presidential election, the electoral authority confirmed Tuesday, bucking a trend in Latin America to extend a decade of leftist rule in the major oil exporter.

National Electoral Council chief Pablo Pozo said on television that “irreversible official results” showed Moreno, 64, won with 51.16 percent of the votes. He beat his conservative rival Guillermo Lasso, 61, who has alleged voting fraud and refused to accept the result. Lasso had 48.84 percent of the votes.

“We congratulate the Ecuadoran people, who have legally and legitimately elected their president,” Pozo said. “Ecuador has spoken freely at the ballot box and it is our ethical duty to respect its vote and its voice.”

He confirmed Moreno’s win was irreversible with 99.65 of the ballots counted. Moreno had on Monday declared himself the “president of all Ecuadorans” as the last results were counted from Sunday’s runoff election.

Lasso has vowed to challenge the result.

Pozo said the electoral council “totally guarantees the right of both political sides to present objections, challenges and appeals through legal institutional channels” by an April 12 deadline before the result is officially promulgated.

Moreno, a wheelchair user and champion of disability rights, is seen as a more moderate successor to outgoing leftist President Rafael Correa.

The race between Moreno and conservative ex-banker Lasso was closely watched as a barometer of the political climate in Latin America, where more than a decade of leftist dominance has been waning.

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