The Latest: Protests in Ecuador over election results

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Posted: Apr 03, 2017 12:42 AM
The Latest: Protests in Ecuador over election results

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — The Latest on Ecuador's presidential election (all times local):

11:45 p.m.

Thousands of outraged supporters of opposition Ecuadorean presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso shouted "fraud" and broke through metal barricades to almost reach the entrance of the electoral council's headquarters in Quito before being pushed back by police. A similar scuffle took place outside the electoral offices in Guayaquil.

Supporters of ruling party candidate Lenin Moreno celebrated their apparent election win and accused their opponents of trying to disavow results from Sunday's presidential runoff. The head of the electoral council, a favorite punching bag of the opposition, appealed for calm.

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10:55 p.m.

Guillermo Lasso is claiming he was the victim of electoral fraud and said his campaign will challenge results in all of Ecuador's 24 provinces.

Speaking to supporters, Lasso said that it was unfathomable that an exit poll that showed him winning by 6 percentage points could have been off by such a large margin. He also questioned why results that took three days to calculate following the first round of voting were announced so quickly in Sunday's runoff.

"This is very sickening. We're not going to allow it," said Lasso, who called on supporters to protest the results peacefully but firmly.

"They've crossed a line, which is pretending to abuse the people's will" and install an "illegitimate" government, Lasso said.

So far the only evidence of possible fraud presented by Lasso's campaign are the results in one tiny provincial voting center that it said were reversed when they were reported to electoral authorities in Quito.

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8:50 p.m.

Ruling-party candidate Lenin Moreno appeared headed to victory in Ecuador's presidential election although his rival has yet to concede defeat after several exit polls showed him winning by a small but comfortable margin.

With more than 94 percent of voting acts counted Moreno won 51 percent of the votes to 49 percent for conservative banker Guillermo Lasso.

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

"Ecuador deserves the ethical responsibility from its political actors to recognize the democratic decision made by the people at the ballot box," said council president Juan Pablo Pozo.

But Lasso, who earlier had claimed victory based on three exit polls showing him winning by as many as 6 points, said he would seek a recount.

"Let's not be provoked. We will act democratically and with respect for authorities but firmly to defend the people's will," Lasso said in a message posted on Twitter. "We're not fools, nor are the Ecuadorean people."

8:35 p.m.

Ruling party candidate Lenin Moreno has won Ecuador's presidential runoff, according to an official quick count by electoral authorities, although his rival is seeking a recount after three exit polls showed him winning by a comfortable margin.

Moreno won Sunday's race with 51 percent to 49 percent for banker Guillermo Lasso, according to the quick count of a statistically-selected voting acts commissioned by the National Electoral Council.

Minutes earlier a separate quick count by a respected local group said found was a technical tie with a difference of less than 0.6 percentage points separating the two candidates. The group refrained from saying which candidate was leading until the electoral authorities made their pronouncement.

Official results still being counted showed Moreno ahead by two points with 94 percent of voting acts counted.

Lasso has demanded a recount and urged his supporters to remain firm so that the popular will is respected.

(Corrects that Moreno has not formally been declared winner.)

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7:35 p.m.

Lenin Moreno is winning by almost two percentage points, according to preliminary official results published on the National Electoral Council's website.

With more than 92 percent of voting acts counted, Moreno has 51 percent to 49 percent for rival Guillermo Lasso, according to the website. But the council had not yet made any declarations and Lasso has already claimed victory, citing exit polls that showed him winning. The council said it would provide results at 8 p.m. local time (0100 GMT).

President Rafael Correa, who backs Moreno, immediately celebrated.

"The moral fraud of the right-wing won't go unpunished," said Correa, referring to the fact that an exit poll which accurately predicted the first-round results showed Lasso winning the runoff by 6 points.

7:15 p.m.

Ruling party candidate Lenin Moreno is repeating his claims of victory and angrily denouncing as misleading a poll showing his opponent winning.

"In the next few minutes you'll know the truth," a defiant Moreno told supporters outside his party's headquarters. "We've got the correct data, we've won the elections and I'm going to be the president of all Ecuadoreans."

Moreno said the poll by Cedatos, which accurately predicted the results of the eight-way first round in February, was paid for by the bank partly owned by his rival, Guillermo Lasso.

"You have the voting acts, you know Cedatos lied to you," Moreno said in a message to his rival.

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6:55 p.m.

The head of Ecuador's National Electoral Council said that authorities will begin issuing preliminary, official results from Sunday's presidential runoff at 8 p.m. EDT (0100 GMT).

Both candidates have claimed victory in what's shaping up to be a nail-biter race pitting conservative former banker Guillermo Lasso against President Rafael Correa's hand-picked candidate, Lenin Moreno.

Three exit polls, including one by a firm that accurately predicted the results of the first-round, showed Lasso winning the race by a slim margin of between 3 and 6 percentage points. But a fourth survey gave Moreno a 4-point edge.

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5:55 p.m.

A few dozen supporters of opposition candidate Guillermo Lasso are gathering outside Ecuador's National Electoral Council to guard against what they fear could be attempts to steal his victory in Sunday's election.

Official results in the runoff have not yet been tabulated but three exit polls predict Lasso winning by a small but comfortable margin while a fourth says Lenin Moreno has won. Both candidates claimed victory before the first ballots were even counted.

The opposition's concerns stem from the slow pace of counting during the 8-way, first round in February, when it took three days for electoral authorities to declare that Moreno, who is backed by current President Rafael Correa, had fallen just short of the threshold to win outright.

Fearing a contested election, church leaders have appealed to both campaigns to accept whatever the results. Electoral authorities have also beefed up security outside the National Electoral Council.

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5:15 p.m.

Both candidates in Ecuador's presidential election are greeting jubilant supporters and claiming victory in what's shaping up to be a nail-biter race.

"Today a new Ecuador has been born," Lasso said to loud shouts of "freedom." ''Behind us are those dark pages of hatred among Ecuadoreans."

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.

An exit poll by Cedatos, which accurately predicted the first-round results, show Lasso winning by a slim 6-point margin but another survey gives a small edge to Moreno.

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5 p.m.

An exit poll shows opposition candidate Guillermo Lasso winning Ecuador's presidential runoff by a slim margin.

Cedatos, which accurately predicted the results of the first-round results in February, said in a survey published after polls closed Lasso won 53 percent to 47 percent for Lenin Moreno. The exit poll had a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points.

Another exit poll showed Moreno winning 52 percent to 48 percent.

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3 p.m.

Ecuador's presidential vote is expected to be a close race that could either further tilt Latin America toward the right after several conservative election victories or reinforce President Rafael Correa's "Citizens' Revolution."

Polls leading up to Sunday's contest have shown a neck-and-neck vote between Correa's hand-picked successor Lenin Moreno and conservative former banker Guillermo Lasso.

Correa has urged voters to pick the candidate who will continue his policies in support of the poor. The opposition candidate is promising to deliver a well-needed jolt to the nation's beleaguered economy.