Leftist Arauz, conservative Lasso advance to Ecuador presidential run-off

Leftist economist Andrés Arauz will face conservative Guillermo Lasso in the upcoming second round of Ecuador’s presidential election, officials confirmed Sunday. Third-place finisher, indigenous leader Yaku Pérez, vows to appeal.

Thirty-six-year-old Arauz won the first round with 32.72 percent of the vote – not enough to win outright. His opponent in the second round will be ex-banker Lasso, who took 19.74 percent to beat left-wing indigenous leader Yaku Pérez’s 19.39 percent, according to the final results of the February 7 poll.

The run-off will take place on April 11, after the first round results were approved by four out of the five members of the National Electoral Council (CNE) at a meeting that lasted into the early hours of Sunday morning.

Pérez, however, said he would appeal. He last week submitted a request for a recount in 17 of the country’s 24 provinces, but that secondary tally was suspended Wednesday.

“We’re going to challenge thousands of votes,” Pérez, a 51-year-old environmental lawyer, said Sunday, before joining indigenous people and supporters marching on the capital Quito.

He has alleged there was fraud to keep him out of the run-off after he was narrowly displaced by Lasso from second to third place in the middle of the count.

“This resistence continues in the legal, judicial, social and political fields,” said Pérez, adding that “we cannot allow electoral fraud to remain unpunished.”

The marchers, who left last Wednesday from close to the southern border with Peru, are expected to arrive in Quito on Tuesday.

“Rivers of people will arrive, rivers of our hearts to say that our vote is worth defending, our vote must not be stolen. We need to recover the votes,” Pérez said.

Lasso, who last week supported Pérez’s call for a partial recount, has already started looking forward to the next round.

“Today democracy has triumphed, we are going with courage and optimism to this second round,” Lasso said in a statement following the announcement.

Incumbent President Lenín Moreno, whose term in office ends on May 24, did not seek re-election.

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