Ecuador to conduct partial election recount

·2-min read
Ecuadorian presidential candidates Guillermo Lasso (top) and Yaku Perez (bottom) are calling for a first round recount to determine which of the two will advance to an April runoff

Ecuador's top electoral body announced on Friday it would conduct a partial recount of Sunday's presidential vote following a request from the two candidates battling for second place.

Environmental lawyer Yaku Perez and right-wing ex-banker Guillermo Lasso made the request earlier on Friday after finishing neck-and-neck in the race to face leftist economist Andres Arauz in April's run-off.

National Electoral Council (CNE) president Diana Atamaint said there would be "a recount of 100 percent of the votes in the Guayas province," which is the most populous in the country, "and 50 percent in 16 provinces."

"Once the recount process is finished there will be a definitive statement on the results," she added.

With 99.99 percent of the votes counted by Friday, Perez, 51, had been given 19.38 percent of the vote, just behind conservative Lasso, 65, who got 19.74 percent.

Arauz, a 36-year-old protege of former socialist president Rafael Correa, lead with 32.7 percent -- not enough to win outright and avoid a runoff.

Pre-election polls had placed Lasso comfortably in second place but Perez performed far better than expected.

"Our proposal is that this (electoral) process be suspended until a recount is given in the 24 provinces" of the country, Perez said at a meeting with Lasso at the CNE headquarters in the capital Quito earlier on Friday.

Atamaint, other council members and international election observers were present at the meeting.

Perez, a prominent indigenous leader who claims there was wrongdoing in the first round, said a recount would offer a chance "to demonstrate to the country that there is no fraud, that the electoral process was transparent."

Hundreds of indigenous Ecuadorans rallied in support of their candidate on Thursday.

Lasso said he supported Perez's proposal.

Incumbent President Lenin Moreno's term in office ends on May 24. He did not seek re-election.

Ecuador's finance ministry has said it will have "the necessary economic resources" for a recount.