Moreno's Ecuador 'win' will be relief for Assange

Leftist government candidate Lenin Moreno has claimed victory in Ecuador's presidential elections, but conservative challenger Guillermo Lasso has asked for a recount as his supporters took to the streets in protest.

Victory for Mr Moreno would come as a relief for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after Mr Lasso, a former banker, vowed to remove him from the Ecuadorean embassy in London if he won the runoff.

Mr Moreno, former vice-president, had secured 51.07% of the votes compared to Mr Lasso's 48.93%, with just over 94 percent of votes counted, according to the electoral council. It has not yet declared a winner.

Before the vote both candidates spoke of how they would deal with Mr Assange.

Mr Lasso said if he is elected he will evict him within 30 days of taking office, while Mr Moreno said he would let Mr Assange stay in the embassy.

Mr Assange sought asylum in the embassy in 2012, fearing he would be deported to Sweden to answer allegations of sexual assault.

He says he is innocent, and fears that from Sweden he might be extradited to the United States, where he is wanted on espionage charges.

Mr Moreno is seen as continuing Mr Correa's "Citizens' Revolution" while Mr Lasso is promising to deliver a jolt to the nation's beleaguered economy.

The country is heavily dependent on oil and its economy is suffering a downturn as oil prices remain low. It is expected to shrink by 2.7% this year.

Surveys show a majority of citizens are keen for change after 10 years of Mr Correa's iron-fisted rule.

But in the final weeks of the race Mr Moreno has inched ahead amid an aggressive campaign to cast his rival as a wealthy, out-of-touch politician.

In the first round of balloting, held on 19 February, Mr Moreno fell just short of the required percentage of votes to avoid a runoff election against Mr Lasso.

The process was marred by accusations of fraud from both sides and angry protests, as the vote count dragged on for several days before the official results were announced.

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