Mon Feb 20, 2017 5:52AM
Lenin Moreno, the presidential candidate of the governing party in Ecuador, flashes the victory sign to supporters at a hotel in Quito, Ecuador, February 19, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Lenin Moreno, the presidential candidate of the governing party in Ecuador, flashes the victory sign to supporters at a hotel in Quito, Ecuador, February 19, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Ecuador’s presidential election may be heading toward a runoff as neither of the two leading candidates has garnered enough votes for an outright win so far.

Results from almost 80 percent of the votes counted indicated on Monday that neither the radical leftist candidate Lenin Moreno nor the ex-banker Guillermo Lasso from the Conservative right had enough votes in the first round to become the South American country’s president.

The electoral council said Moreno had received 38.83 percent of the votes, versus the 28.63 percent for Lasso.

Moreno needs 40 percent of the votes and a 10-percentage-point difference with Lasso to avoid a runoff vote, already scheduled for April 2.

But Moreno has said he has faith he will reach the 40-percent threshold.

Moreno, 63, who is the favorite candidate of President Rafael Correa, is a disabled, former vice president. He has promised benefits for the disabled, single mothers, and the elderly.

His critics say he lacks the power to overhaul an economy ailing under low oil prices, steep debts, and high taxes on the middle class.

Leftist Ecuadorian presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso (L) stands next to his running mate Andres Paez after the polls close in Guayaquil, Ecuador, February 19, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Lasso, 61, has campaigned on a platform of reviving the economy — which is dependent on exports of oil, flowers and shrimp — by slashing taxes, attracting foreign investment, and creating a million jobs in four years.

Lasso has also vowed to remove Wikileaks founder Julian Assange from the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

“We will cordially ask Señor Assange to leave within 30 days of assuming a mandate,” he told British media last week.

The Wikileaks founder, wanted by Sweden, has taken refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in the British capital. He has been there for almost five years.