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Accusations of fraud sparks over Ecuador’s presidential elections after early results projected victory for the incumbent party’s candidate.

Results show former VP Lenin Moreno of the Socialist Party has 51.12% of the vote, with just 4% of districts still waiting to be counted.

However, challenger Guillermo Lasso had already begun celebrations after an exit poll predicted his victory.

Guillermo Lasso demanded a recount, and called on supporters to take to the streets.

He also alleged electoral fraud had been used to grant victory to his opponent.

In a series of tweets, Guillermo Lasso told the public to “peacefully defend your vote” and said he was “going to defend the will of the people”.

Final official results have yet to be announced.

If Lenin Moreno is declared the winner, he will continue a decade of left-wing leadership begun by President Rafael Correa in 2007.

Image source Wikipedia

He would also become one of a small number of disabled world leaders – he became paraplegic after being shot in the back during a robbery in 1998.

An apparent victory for Lenin Moreno was welcomed by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange – as Guillermo Lasso had vowed to evict him from his asylum in the country’s London embassy if victorious.

Julian Assange tweeted that he “cordially invites” Guillermo Lasso to leave the country within 30 days – referencing the timeframe the candidate gave for Assange’s own eviction.

Guillermo Lasso, a former banker who wants to promote foreign investment, called for a recount after Lenin Moreno started to take a lead in the preliminary results.

Exit polls released on April 2 had suggested an extremely tight race.

A poll by Periles de Opinion had shown Lenin Moreno leading with 52.2%, while a poll by Cedatos showed Guillermo Lasso winning with 53.02%.

Incumbent President Rafael Correa, meanwhile, tweeted criticism of what he termed “violence” in several cities as early results emerged.

Local media reported that some of Guillermo Lasso’s supporters had gathered in the capital of Quito, as well as the city of Guayaquil. According to The El Comercio newspaper, the crowd removed barriers placed in the road, and bottles were thrown by some in Guayaquil.

When he was first elected in 2007, Rafael Correa was one of a group of left-wing leaders in power in Latin America.

However, in the decade since, conservative politicians have taken power in Argentina and Brazil. A victory for Guillermo Lasso would have continued that trend.


Ecuador has declared 8 days of national mourning a week after the devastating earthquake that killed at least 646 people.

In a speech announcing the national mourning, Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa has said the number of fatalities has risen to 646 and another 130 people were still missing.

The 7.8 magnitude quake struck off the Ecuadorean coast on April 16, injuring thousands and destroying many towns.

It was the worst tragedy to hit the South American nation in decades.

“These have been sad days for the homeland. The country is in crisis,” Rafael Correa said on his weekly TV broadcast on April 23.Ecuador earthquake 2016

Rafael Correa praised the 27 countries who sent rescue teams over the past week and said that 113 people had been rescued alive from the rubble.

“This is an amazing figure, which made all this effort worthwhile,” he added.

The president also announced that “in the next few hours” he would sign a decree declaring eight days of national mourning.

“It has been a national tragedy, but we will recover,” he said.

More than 12,000 people were treated over the past week across the country for injuries caused by the earthquake, said Rafael Correa.

Foreign nationals from the Colombia, Cuba, the UK, Ireland, Canada, and the Dominican Republic have been confirmed among the dead.

Major international and aid organizations have sent help.

The cost of rebuilding could be up to $3 billion, President Rafael Correa said during a visit to the worst-affected region.

The World Bank has agreed to lend $150 million to help Ecuador cope with the financial costs of the quake.

The tragedy comes at a time when the oil-producing country is already reeling from the slump in global crude prices.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the Ecuador earthquake had struck at a fairly shallow depth of 12 miles, about 17 miles from Muisne in a sparsely populated area.


The death toll in Ecuador’s most powerful earthquake in decades has risen to about 350, the government has said.

Teams from Switzerland, Spain and several Latin American countries have arrived to join the local search effort.

More than 2,000 people were injured in the quake.

Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa warned that the death toll was likely to rise, and said there were still people alive under the rubble of collapsed buildings. He said it was the biggest tragedy to hit Ecuador in the past seven decades.

The president visited some of the people affected by the disaster after cutting short a visit to Italy to return to his home country.

“I fear that figure will go up because we keep on removing rubble,” Rafael Correa said in a TV address.

“There are signs of life in the rubble, and that is being prioritized.”

Rafael Correa warned that the quake will cost Ecuador billions of dollars. It comes at a time when the oil-producing country is already reeling from the slump in global crude prices.

Correspondents say that while Ecuador’s energy industry survived the quake mostly intact – the main refinery of Esmeraldas was closed as a precaution – exports of bananas, flowers, cocoa beans and fish could be delayed because of impassable roads and hold-ups at ports.

Foreign Minister Guillaume Long praised those nations which had contributed to the rescue effort.Ecuador earthquake 2016

Guillaume Long tweeted that as many as 120 mobile rescue teams would be on the ground by Tuesday morning.

The magnitude-7.8 quake struck on April 16. Coastal areas in the north-west were closest to the epicenter. There have been about 230 aftershocks across the country.

A state of emergency has been declared and some 10,000 troops and 3,500 police have been deployed in the affected areas.

In Pedernales, close to the epicenter, as many as 400 people are feared dead. Mayor Gabriel Alcivar said the “entire town” had been flattened.

“Pedernales is devastated. Buildings have fallen down, especially hotels where there are lots of tourists staying. There are lots of dead bodies,” he told local media.

“We’re trying to do the most we can but there’s almost nothing we can do,” Gabriel Alcivar added, warning that looting had broken out.

More than 600 people have been treated for injuries at tents in the town’s football stadium, with many others taken by ambulance or helicopter to regional hospitals. The stadium also served as a makeshift morgue, Reuters reported, with at least 90 bodies taken there.

Many residents of the town are due to spend the night sleeping outside on mattresses in muggy and tropical conditions and afraid of more aftershocks.

Firefighters conducted rescue operations in destroyed buildings, demanding silence so they could listen for cries for help.

Meanwhile, queues for essential supplies such as bottled water, blankets and food formed around the stadium’s walls, as residents complained that electricity shortages were preventing them from using mobile phones to contact loved ones.

More than 1,000 policemen are patrolling the streets of Pedernales ahead of an expected visit by the president.

The quake cut power supplies along the coast. With too few emergency shelters, many residents have spent two nights out in the open.

In Portoviejo, where looting was reported, about 400 residents gathered at the city’s former airport to queue for water and other supplies.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the earthquake struck at a fairly shallow depth of 11.9 miles, about 16 miles from Muisne in a sparsely populated area.

The quake was also felt in neighboring Colombia.

Scientists say there is no connection between the quake in Ecuador and a severe tremor in southern Japan, which also occurred on April 16.

The Ecuadorian conservation plan that would have paid the country not to drill for oil in previously untouched parts of Yasuni National Park in the Amazon rainforest has been abandoned.

President Rafael Correa said rich nations had failed to back the initiative, leaving Ecuador with no choice but go ahead with drilling.

The park is one of the most biodiverse areas in the world.

Hundreds of people gathered in Quito to protest against Rafael Correa’s decision.

Oil exploitation has been taking place in parts of the Yasuni National Park, which covers nearly 3,860 sq miles, since the 1970s.

Oil is Ecuador’s main export. Exploitation of the new area is expected to start in the coming weeks.

The UN-backed scheme to attract donations to forego drilling in the east of the park was launched by Rafael Correa in 2010.

The aim was to raise $3.6 billion, 50% of the value of the reserves in the park’s Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) oil field, over 13 years.

But in a televised news conference on Thursday, Rafael Correa said the initiative had attracted only a fraction of the cash it had aimed to raise.

With only $13 million so far in actual donations, he said he had no other option but to abandon the fund as “the world has failed us”.

The Ecuadorian conservation plan that would have paid the country not to drill for oil in previously untouched parts of Yasuni National Park in the Amazon rainforest has been abandoned

The Ecuadorian conservation plan that would have paid the country not to drill for oil in previously untouched parts of Yasuni National Park in the Amazon rainforest has been abandoned

“I have signed the executive decree for the liquidation of the Yasuni-ITT trust fund and through it, end the initiative,” the president said in a televised address.

He called the decision one of the most difficult he had had to take as president.

“It was not charity that we sought from the international community, but co-responsibility in the face of climate change,” Rafael Correa said.

The president added that the oil exploration would leave most of the park untouched, affecting less that 1% of its area.

Environmental activists demonstrated outside the presidential palace in the capital, Quito, about the announcement.

According to the Yasuni-ITT trust fund, 78% of Ecuadorians are against drilling in the park, which is also home to indigenous communities, including the Tagaeri and the Taromenane.

The fund, administered by the UN Development Programme, argues that stopping the drilling would prevent more than 400 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere.

A scientist working for the US-based Center for International Environmental Law said it was “deeply disappointing” the funding initiative had failed.

“The Yasuni-ITT Initiative was the lone exception to the relentless expansion of hydrocarbon projects deeper into the most remote tracts of the western Amazon,” Matt Finer told AP.

“Now there is really no viable alternative to stop the wave of drilling slated for the most biodiverse region of the world.”

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Rafael Correa has been re-elected for a third term as Ecuador’s president with more than 50% of the vote.

His main challenger, Guillermo Lasso, has admitted defeat.

Addressing his supporters in the capital, Quito, Rafael Correa, 49, called for “another four years of revolution”.

First elected in 2007, the socialist leader is widely credited with bringing political stability to a nation that suffered decades of protests and coups.

But critics accuse Rafael Correa of being a dictator in the making.

Rafael Correa, a US-trained economist, has been accused of implementing policies that have served to strengthen his hold on power and erode the influence of political opponents and private media.

But his so-called “citizens’ revolution” has made him popular with many ordinary Ecuadoreans and has won him friends among other Latin American left-wing leaders.

Partial results give Rafael Correa 56.7%, ahead of 23.3% for his nearest rival, former banker Guillermo Lasso. The third-placed challenger was poised to take 6.6%, with four others trailing below 5%.

To avoid a run-off, the president needs to win 50% of the total vote or 40% plus a 10-point margin over the second-placed candidate.

Rafael Correa has been re-elected for a third term as Ecuador's president with more than 50 percent of the vote

Rafael Correa has been re-elected for a third term as Ecuador’s president with more than 50 percent of the vote

Speaking on TV after 40% of the votes had been counted, the head of the National Electoral Council said the final result would not be significantly larger or smaller.

President Rafael Correa was quick to claim victory.

“Nobody can stop this revolution,” he told a crowd of supporters gathered outside the balcony of the Carondelet Palace in Quito.

“The colonial powers are not in charge anymore, you can be sure that in this revolution it’s Ecuadoreans who are in charge.”

“We are here to serve you,” he added.

“Nothing for us, everything for you: the people who deserve the right to be free.

“This is not just a victory for Ecuador, this is a victory for the great homeland of Latin America.”

During his six years in power, Rafael Correa has expanded access to healthcare and education and improved thousands of miles of highways, creating many jobs in the process. Poverty rates have dropped significantly.

Critics say that, since coming to office, he has filled the courts and government positions with allies and stifled free speech by taking on the media.

They also complain he has restricted free enterprise with heavy taxation and regulatory changes and taken government spending to an unsustainable level.

Rafael Correa is close to Venezuela and Cuba and has sought to establish ties with Iran and China. Last year, he upset the US, Britain and Sweden by granting asylum to wanted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

“I don’t recognize the current Correa. He is a different person. He is not the friend I used to have, that I used to love like a brother,” said Alberto Acosta, one of the co-founders of the Alianza Pais governing party and now an opposition candidate.

“He controls everything. He is a sort of Sun King of the 21st Century,” he said referring to France’s King Louis XIV.

Since 2007, Rafael Correa has re-written the country’s constitution: a move that allowed him to run for, and win, a new term in 2009. He is legally barred from running again after this election, the Associated Press reports.

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Governments in Latin America have reacted angrily to the impeachment of Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo in the wake of a land dispute scandal.

Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay have condemned the move and recalled their ambassadors for consultations.

But Federico Franco, who replaced Fernando Lugo as president, denied that Lugo’s removal from office was a coup.

In his first news conference, Federico Franco said there had been no break with democracy.

A 39-4 vote in the Senate on Friday saw Fernando Lugo impeached, in a case stemming from his handling of clashes between farmers and police last week in which at least 17 people died.

Earlier, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez had said her country “would not validate the coup” in Paraguay.

Governments in Latin America have reacted angrily to the impeachment of Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo in the wake of a land dispute scandal

Governments in Latin America have reacted angrily to the impeachment of Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo in the wake of a land dispute scandal

President Cristina Fernandez also said that the South American trade bloc, Mercosur, would take “appropriate measures” at next week’s summit in Argentina.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota condemned the impeachment as a “backward step” liable to be sanctioned by regional institutions such as Mercosur, Reuters news agency reports.

Federico Franco, who had been serving as Fernando Lugo’s vice-president, was sworn in as president immediately after the impeachment.

He insisted the proceedings had been conducted in line with Paraguay constitution.

“What was carried out was a political trial in accordance with the constitution and the laws,” he said.

Federico Franco acknowledged the impeachment had caused tensions with Paraguay neighbors.

“I am calm, we are going to organize the house, we are going to contact our neighboring countries in due time and I’m absolutely certain that they are going to understand the situation in Paraguay,” Federico Franco said.

The presidents of Ecuador and Venezuela, Rafael Correa and Hugo Chavez, were also outspoken in their criticism of the move.

“The Ecuadorian government will not recognize any president that isn’t Fernando Lugo,” Rafael Correa said.

“We will not lend ourselves to these tales of alleged legal formalities, which clearly attack democracy,” he added.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez displayed a similar sentiment: “In the name of the people of Venezuela and in the name of the Venezuelan government and as commander-in-chief, I’ll say it.

“We, the Venezuelan government, the Venezuelan state, do not recognize this illegitimate and illegal government that has been installed.”

The governments of Colombia, Mexico and Chile have said they regretted the fact that Fernando Lugo had not been “given reasonable time to prepare his defense”.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said Fernando Lugo’s removal from office was an “attack on the legal foundation of the state”.

The United States and Spain have avoided publicly opposing or supporting the move, instead pressing the principle of democracy in Paraguay.

A statement from the Spanish foreign ministry said: “Spain defends full respect for democratic institutions and the state of law and trusts that Paraguay, in respect for its constitution and international commitments, will manage to handle this political crisis and safeguard the peaceful coexistence of the Paraguayan people.”

The United States took a similar stance.

US State Department spokeswoman Darla Jordan was quoted as saying: “We urge all Paraguayans to act peacefully, with calm and responsibility, in the spirit of Paraguay democratic principles.”