Electoral body orders partial recount after meeting between two presidential candidates still vying for second place.
The United Nations has called for “transparency and promptness” in a vote recount in Ecuador to determine who will square off against the frontrunner in a presidential runoff in April.
The country’s top electoral body said on Friday it would conduct a partial recount of the February 7 vote following a request from the two candidates battling for second place.
Indigenous activist Yaku Perez and right-wing former banker Guillermo Lasso filed a request for the recount, as the race to join economist Andres Arauz in the presidential runoff remained too close to call.
The UN office in Ecuador said in a tweet on Sunday that it “trusts that the electoral authorities will act with efficiency, transparency and promptness, thus ensuring the timeliness of the electoral calendar”.
The National Electoral Council (CNE) has said it would recount six million votes – about 45 percent of the ballots cast.
Perez had 19.38 percent of the vote, just behind Lasso, who got 19.74 percent, according to the most recent figures.
Pre-election polls had placed Lasso comfortably in second place heading into last Sunday’s vote, but Perez performed far better than expected.
Perez has since alleged wrongdoing in the first round – without providing evidence – and said a recount would offer a chance “to demonstrate to the country that there is no fraud, that the electoral process was transparent”.
Lasso supported the proposal.
Arauz, a 36-year-old protege of former socialist President Rafael Correa, secured his place in the runoff with 32.7 percent of the vote.
The term of current President Lenin Moreno, who did not seek re-election, ends on May 24.
Moreno 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.
A crowded field of 16 candidates participated in Ecuador’s presidential contest, which took place amid widespread discontent about the country’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and coronavirus-related economic downturn.
Ecuador has recorded more than 267,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 15,100 coronavirus-related deaths to date, according to Johns Hopkins University.