Ecuador: Correa claims victory

“Thank God, we have triumphed,” Mr Correa, 43, told cheering supporters in Quito.

“We receive this triumph with the hope that much can be done for this country,” he said, speaking from a podium set up in a main street of the capital.

Mr Correa, 43, has stirred unease on financial markets with his calls to renegotiate the country’s debt and revise foreign oil companies’ contracts in Ecuador.

His friendship with Venezuela’s firebrand president Hugo Chavez, and his determination not to renew a lease for a US military base in Ecuador also have caused concern in Washington.

Mr Correa, who once called George W. Bush a “dimwit”, toned down his criticism of the US president after trailing Noboa by four points in the first round of voting on October 15.

He said he wanted “the best possible” relations with Washington.

He also emphatically denies any political ties with Mr Chavez, or that the Venezuelan leader actively backed his candidacy, but makes no secret of their friendship.

But, like his Venezuelan friend has done, Mr Correa said he would push to create an assembly that would rewrite the constitution, but which his critics say might dissolve the Congress.

A former finance minister who describes himself as a “humanist, leftist Christian”, Mr Correa says he is a representative of the “new Latin American left” that offers an alternative to strict free-market policies he says have proved a failure in Latin America.

Mr Noboa said earlier he would await the official count before pronouncing himself on the outcome of the election.

Mr Correa had an advantage of 13.6 percentage points in one exit poll, 14 in another and almost 16 in a third.

Cedatos/Gallup showed him winning the presidency with 56.8 percent of the vote, Teleamazonas television had him taking 57 percent and the Market pollsters gave Mr Correa 57.99 percent.

Ecuador country profile