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Ecuador votes today

Voting was underway in Ecuador as this nation of 14.5 million chooses a president and 137 members of the National Assembly to lead the country for the next four years. President Rafael Correa, 49, has been leading most polls and could win today’s race in the first round as he faces a divided opposition. His main rival, former banker Guillermo Lasso, is confident he can force Correa into a runoff. Correa, a leftist economist who has led the country since 2007, has won high praise for using the nation’s oil wealth to build roads, schools and hospitals. But his opponents accuse his “Citizens Revolution” of eroding democracy by co-opting state institutions, including the courts, and muzzling the press.

Lasso, 57, of the CREO party, has vowed to reduce tensions in this polarized nation, lure back foreign investors and hire 20,000 more police to crack down on rising crime.

The vote ends a divisive campaign where opposition candidates and watchdog organizations accused the administration of flooding state-run media outlets with thinly veiled political propaganda rivals were kept on strict quotas.

At a school in Quito, Correa pushed through a scrum of reporters with his vice president candidate Jorge Glas to cast his ballot. Correa called the race one of the most transparent and fair in history.

“This race already has a winner,” he said. “The winner is Ecuador.”

Lasso is expected to vote in the port city of Guayaquil.

 

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