Tensions rise in Ecuador as election results roll in

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Indigenous candidate Yaku Pérez cries fraud as rightwing Guillermo Lasso claims he has edged into second round

Gideon Long in Guayaquil, Ecuador

Four days after the first round of voting in Ecuador’s presidential election, a turnround in the race for a spot in an upcoming run-off has prompted indigenous candidate Yaku Pérez to cry fraud and raise the prospect of his supporters taking to the streets in protest.

Pérez is locked in a knife-edge battle with rightwing businessman Guillermo Lasso to make the decisive run-off in April against leftist economist Andrés Arauz, who won the first round comfortably. Pérez pulled ahead on Tuesday, opening up a lead of 50,000 votes — but by Wednesday, that had evaporated.

After edging ahead by 5,000 votes, Lasso claimed victory, even though he acknowledged 350,000 ballots still had to be counted.

“This afternoon it has become clear that we are in the second round,” the millionaire former banker and ex-Coca-Cola executive said in a video posted on Wednesday, adding that he accepted the challenge “with profound humility and a great sense of responsibility”. By Thursday, his lead had increased to 18,000 votes.