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Governing party candidate leading in Ecuador's presidential election

The hand-picked candidate of socialist President Rafael Correa was leading the opening round of Ecuador's presidential election, although it was uncertain whether he would get enough votes to avoid a run-off against his nearest rival.

With more than 81.4% of polling stations reporting, ruling party candidate Lenin Moreno had almost 39% of the votes, compared to just under 29% for former banker Guillermo Lasso, the closest contender among seven opposition candidates.

Mr Moreno needed to win a majority of the total vote, or to have a 40% share while holding a 10-point lead over his nearest rival to avoid a run-off.

Mr Moreno was quick to declare himself the winner based on inconclusive exit polls and called on Mr Lasso to recognise defeat.

He later softened his stance while addressing supporters late in the night, but still said he was confident he would cross the required threshold as results came in from consulates overseas and western Manabi province, where the government spent heavily to rebuild from last year's 7.8 magnitude earthquake.

"I have faith we'll reach 40%," he said before breaking into song.

Given the tight race, electoral authorities decided against announcing a quick count of results and appealed for patience as official results came in.

AP

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