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Ecuador: Moreno’s win relief for Wikileaks Assange

World News

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange can continue to maintain his asylum in Ecuadorian embassy in London, thanks to the outcome of the presidential run-off poll in the Latin American nation on Sunday.

Socialist candidate Lenin Moreno, who had promised to keep Assange in the embassy, celebrated victory on Monday, leaving challenger, Guillermo Lasso, complaining of poll fraud.

Former banker Lasso had vowed to remove Assange from the embassy if he won the runoff.

The 45 year-old Australian computer programmer founded WikiLeaks in 2006, which has masterminded a series of high level leaks of official information. He sought asylum in Ecuadorian embassy in London in August 2012 after Sweden requested his extradition to face rape charges, for which he was questioned in 2010.

He also faces charges in London, for breaching his bail conditions in 2010.

Assange continued to deny the Swedish allegations, and expressed concern that he would be extradited from Sweden to the United States due to his perceived role in publishing secret American documents. He has since remained in the Embassy of Ecuador in London, and is afraid of stepping out.

Moreno’s victory bucked a shift to the right in South America, where right-leaning governments recently came to power in Argentina, Brazil, and Peru as a commodities boom ended, economies flagged and corruption scandals grew.

Lasso has demanded a recount as supporters took to the streets in protest.

The region’s high-profile Socialist leader, President Nicolas Maduro of crisis-hit Venezuela, congratulated Moreno profusely on Twitter, as did Bolivian President Evo Morales.

“Congratulations Ecuador, the citizen’s revolution has triumphed!” said Maduro, as did much of his cabinet.

“21st century Socialism always triumphs,” tweeted Morales. “Congratulations brother @Lenin!”

Lasso had promised to denounce the embattled Maduro, who foes say has turned his country into a dictatorship.

Moreno, a paraplegic former vice president, secured 51.15 percent of the votes, compared with Lasso’s 48.85 percent, with nearly 99 percent of votes counted, according to the electoral council on Monday morning.

Lasso, who had proclaimed himself victorious based on a top pollster’s exit poll, disputed the close results that would extend a decade-long leftist rule in oil-rich Ecuador.

“They’ve crossed a line,” he told supporters in a hotel in his coastal hometown of Guayaquil on Sunday, vowing to challenge the results, a complex process that could take time.

“We’re going to defend the will of the Ecuadorean people in the face of this fraud attempt,” he said.

Lasso tweeted photos showing what he said were original votes for him that were changed by electoral officials. The election authority denied fraud allegations.

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