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World

President-elect Lasso pledges 'true change' to Ecuador

  • Nichols said Lasso needs to concentrate on "a good vaccination plan" and "stabilizing the economy" to succeed.
Updated 13 Apr, 2021

QUITO: President-elect Guillermo Lasso on Monday announced a "true change" in crisis-wracked Ecuador after bringing to an end an era of left-wing election victories.

The 65-year-old former banker beat socialist economist Andres Arauz in Sunday's poll with official results after 97 percent of the votes were counted showing Lasso leading by 52.5 percent to 47.4.

"Ecuador is beginning a new stage in which we can all live better. Democracy, freedom and Ecuadoran families won," Lasso wrote on Twitter.

Despite coronavirus restrictions, supporters took to the streets of the capital Quito and the largest city, Guayaquil, to celebrate by honking car horns and waving Ecuador flags.

Arauz, 36, who is best known as the political protege of former president Rafael Correa, conceded late on Sunday.

Right-winger Lasso will inherit a pandemic-battered and debt-laden economy and a political system riven by gridlock when he takes over from the unpopular Lenin Moreno next month.

He faces a tough job during his four-year term with Arauz's leftist Union of Hope coalition the largest party in parliament, while the Packakutik indigenous movement is the second biggest.

"Expecting to transform Ecuador in four years is not possible," Esteban Nichols, a political scientist at Simon Bolivar University, told AFP.

Lasso must also juggle the need to boost an economy that shrunk by 7.8 percent in 2020, while managing the pandemic that has overwhelmed hospitals with more than 340,000 coronavirus infections and over 17,000 deaths.

He faces overall debt of almost $64 billion -- 63 percent of GDP -- of which $45 billion is external debt.

Nichols said Lasso needs to concentrate on "a good vaccination plan" and "stabilizing the economy" to succeed.

Lasso has vowed to immunize nine million Ecuadorans in his first 100 days in office while promoting free markets to boost employment.

So far just 183,000 people have been vaccinated.

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