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Washington Congratulates Ecuador's Lenin Moreno on Election Win

Quito has had frosty relations with the U.S. in recent years after President Rafael Correa kicked the U.S. military out of the country.

As unsuccessful former presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso becomes increasingly isolated in his refusal to accept the results of Ecuador’s election, the United States on Thursday joined the long list of countries that have congratulated President-elect Lenin Moreno on his recent win.

But in the same breath that Washington embraced the election results, they also pointed out “concerns” about the election.

“The United States congratulates the people of Ecuador on taking part in the second-round presidential elections on April 2. We also congratulate Lenin Moreno of the Alianza Pais party on his victory,” begins a U.S. Department of State statement released Thursday.

“However, we do note the concerns about the electoral process and expect that they will be fully considered and resolved in a legal and transparent manner,” the statement continued.

Despite resounding praise for the transparency of Sunday’s vote from international observation missions, right-wing former candidate and banker Lasso has contested the outcome of the vote on unsubstantiated claims of fraud, calling for a recount.

Lasso, who has largely relied on the disparity between favorable exit polls and the official election results as the basis for his fraud accusations, presented paltry evidence for his case Wednesday challenging 1,795 of the country’s 41,042 electoral rolls.

Ahead of Lasso’s announcement of the specific details of his challenge to the results Wednesday, head of the National Electoral Council, Juan Pablo Pozo, noted that only 835 electoral rolls — or 2 percent of the more than 40,000 rolls — presented irregularities and would be submitted to a public audit.

Meanwhile, President-elect Lenin Moreno and outgoing President Rafael Correa, both of the left-wing PAIS Alliance, have backed the recount in the name of setting the record straight on opposition claims of fraud.

Washington experienced chilled relations with Quito under Correa, elected in 2006 on a platform of progressive economic and social change and national sovereignty to combat U.S. intervention in the region amid the so-called “Pink Tide” of left-wing governments challenging imperialism in Latin America, beginning with it Hugo Chavez’s rise to power in Venezuela.

Fulfilling a new commitment — enshrined in Ecuador’s 2008 constitution — to prohibit foreign military bases in the country, in 2009 Correa ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Manta military base, established in 1978, after its most recent 10-year lease expired.

The bold move tempered Washington’s relations with Correa, an outspoken critic of U.S. intervention in the region. The year after the Manta base was shut down, Chavez predicted that “the Yankee empire will never forgive Rafael Correa for kicking them out of Manta and launching the Citizen’s Revolution,” the name of Correa’s progressive social and political agenda.

According to the U.S. Department of State’s response to the election, however, relations between the two countries are developing.

“Our countries have enjoyed nearly 200 years of diplomatic relations and strong and growing ties between our peoples,” said the statement. “We look forward to working with the new government to build a constructive relationship in areas of mutual interest.”

Moreno, former vice president under Correa, a renowned disability rights activist and former U.N. special envoy on Disability and Accessibility, has promised to continue and expand the progressive policies of the Correa government. It’s likely that Quito’s frosty relations with Washington will also continue.

via telesur
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