Conservative Guillermo Lasso wins Ecuador’s presidential runoff

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April 12 (UPI) — Voters in Ecuador have elected conservative former banker Guillermo Lasso as their next president, election officials said.

With nearly all votes counted in the runoff election, Lasso, 65, of the Creating Opportunities political movement, won 52.4% of the vote to left-leaning economist Andres Arauz’s 47.4%, according to the Election Council website.

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“It is a historic day,” Lasso said Sunday in a statement. “Today, we begin to work harder than ever to build the country that we all want and deserve.”

Earlier, Arauz, 36, of the Union of Hope coalition, conceded defeat while speaking to his supporters in the capital of Quito.

“This is an electoral setback. This is not an end, but a start,” he said while calling for unity.

Lasso’s runoff election win comes two months after Arauz secured the most votes but not enough to secure the presidency during the original contest in February.

As Arauz conceded defeat, former President Rafael Correa and Arauz’s mentor who was sentenced to eight years in prison on bribery and corruptions charges last year tweeted his well-wishes to the president-elect.

“We honestly believed we were winning, but our projections were wrong,” he said. “Good luck to Guillermo Lasso, his success will be that of Ecuador. I only ask you to stop the lawfare, which destroys lives and families.”

Lasso, a three-time presidential candidate, will assume the country’s highest office on May 24.

Current President Lenin Moreno said Democracy “triumphed” in a statement on Sunday.

“Today, the Ecuadorian people have demonstrated democratic maturity on a peaceful and transparent election day,” he said. “Congratulations to Lasso Guillermo. I wish you the best of success for the benefit of Ecuadorians.”