Ecuador election council agrees to recount 1.3 million votes

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) " Ecuador election officials will recount nearly 1.3 million votes cast in the Andean nation's presidential election, though opposition leader Guillermo Lasso on Friday dismissed the gesture as a farce that would do nothing to quell accusations of fraud.

The National Electoral Council announced late Thursday it would recount all ballots contested by both parties, about 10 percent of the total vote.

Official results from the April 2 election showed conservative former banker Lasso lost by less than 3 percentage points to President Rafael Correa's handpicked successor, Lenin Moreno. International observers including the Organization of American States have said they found no irregularities, though Lasso claims his campaign found numerous inconsistencies and has refused to accept the official results.

Council president Juan Pablo Pozo has said reviews show no evidence of fraud but said he agreed to a recount for "the tranquility of the country."

Ecuador's election was closely watched in Latin America as an indicator of whether the region would continue to shift rift after recent conservative wins in countries including Peru and Argentina.

Analysts also viewed the election as a test of the legacy of Correa's "Citizens' Revolution." Moreno vowed to continue the president's platform of promoting social benefits like expanded access to education and healthcare while Lasso put forward a pro-business agenda he said would lift Ecuador's slumping economy and generate new jobs.

"We won't participate in this Correista show attempting to deceive voters," Lasso said Friday in response to the council's decision. "Because we should be clear: The only way of knowing the truth and making the process transparent is a TOTAL RECOUNT."

On Twitter, Correa said the electoral council was taking extraordinary steps to "finish at once Lasso's show, for the elections the banker could not buy."

Lasso's campaign contends voter returns on election night showed the conservative candidate was winning when the National Electoral Council's website stopped working. The website later came back online and showed Moreno had taken the lead.

They say a review of ballot turned up inconsistencies including a small percentage of polling sites with outsized majorities in favor of Moreno and ballots with technical errors.

"We believe this election was rigged," Andres Paez, Lasso's running mate, wrote in column published in The New York Times. "Once again, the National Electoral Council has proved itself loyal to the populist government of President Correa."

Pozo has vehemently disputed those claims, saying the council reviewed nearly 300,000 ballots and found they matched the official result. He said the recount of disputed ballots would take place "to show the country the truth."

"We have nothing to hide!" he said in a statement.

The OAS has said its mission of electoral observers visited at random 480 voting centers nationwide found no discrepancies between the tallies and the official results.

The recount is to take place Tuesday in capital city Quito.

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Associated Press writer Christine Armario in Bogota, Colombia, contributed to this report.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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