QUITO: Ecuadoran officials denied claims of attempted fraud in a tightly fought election as the last votes were counted Tuesday with the ruling socialists looking likely to face a runoff vote.
With 97.2 per cent of ballots counted from Sunday's election, leftist ruling party candidate Lenin Moreno had 39.31 per cent of the vote, according to the National Electoral Council.
Whereas his conservative rival Guillermo Lasso had 28.25 per cent.
To win, Moreno needs 40 per cent of the votes and a margin of at least 10 percentage points over Lasso.
The runoff would be held on April 2.
"There is a marked trend, and if that turns out to be the case there would be a runoff," National Electoral Council President Juan Pablo Pozo, told a news conference.
He has said it could take until Thursday for the full results to be confirmed.
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Lasso said he was confident there would be a runoff.
"That it should take three days to publish final results is an attempt at fraud and we are not going to allow that," he wrote on Twitter.
The electoral council has denied any fraud took place. It insisted in a statement that it would "guarantee that the people's will is respected."
"Never in the history of the country have results come out less than 48 hours after the end of voting," it said on Twitter.
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Supporters of Lasso earlier scuffled with police as they gathered outside the electoral council, impatient at the delay.
Lasso called on people "not to give in to provocation."
Political analyst Santiago Basabe of the social science institute FLACSO said it was "difficult for the current trend [towards a runoff vote] to be reversed."
Opinion polls indicate Moreno may well lose a runoff in which supporters of other conservative opposition groups are likely to rally behind Lasso.
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