Ecuador to conduct partial recount in disputed presidential polls

Electoral body orders partial recount after meeting between two presidential candidates still vying for second place.

Election officials count ballots after the polls closed during Ecuador's presidential election on February 7 [Santiago Arcos/Reuters]

Ecuador’s top electoral body has said it will conduct a partial recount of February 7 presidential polls after a request from two candidates still fighting for second place.

Indigenous activist Yaku Perez and right-wing former banker Guillermo Lasso filed a request for the recount on Friday, as the race to join economist Andres Arauz in an April presidential runoff remains too close to call.

Diana Atamaint, president of the National Electoral Council (CNE), said there would be “a recount of 100 percent of the votes in the Guayas province”, the most populous province in the country.

She said 50 percent of the votes in 16 other provinces would also be recounted.

“Once the review process is finished, the final announcement of the results will be made,” Atamaint said in a statement.

“We are firmly going to defend the electoral process that we prepared with great affection, responsibility but above all with transparency.”

Presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso gestures during a meeting with Yaku Perez at the Electoral National Council in Quito, Ecuador, on February 12 [Cecilia Puebla/Reuters]

Perez and Lasso agreed to the recount in a meeting that included observers from the Organization of American States (OAS), which last week urged Ecuadorians to show patience as the votes were being counted.

The statement did not say how long the recount process would take.

With 99.99 percent of the votes counted by Friday, Perez had 19.38 percent of the vote, just behind Lasso, who got 19.74 percent.

“We are convinced that now, with transparency, we will recover many votes,” said Perez, after the meeting at the electoral council. “It was worth the fight.”

Arauz, a protege of former President Rafael Correa, secured 32.44 percent of the votes and will take part in the runoff.

As many as 16 candidates took part in the presidential contest, which took place amid widespread discontent over the country’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and coronavirus-related economic downturn.

Perez’s supporters have camped out outside the offices of the electoral body after he suggested – without evidence – that “fraud” was taking place.

The country’s outgoing president, Lenin Moreno, who did not seek re-election, on Wednesday urged the CNE to release accurate results quickly. “The country needs the results, but also the total confidence in those results,” he said.

The OAS and the US State Department have also called on Ecuadorians to show patience as the electoral process continues.

Source: News Agencies