Ecuador's incumbent President Rafael Correa casts his vote at a polling station during the presidential elections, in Quito, capital of Ecuador, on Feb. 17, 2013. Ecuador held leigislative and presidential elections on Sunday. (Xinhua/Santiago Armas)
QUITO, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa was re-elected in Sunday's elections, according to preliminary results.
The incumbent won 56.36 percent of the vote against 24.09 percent for his closest challenger, former banker Guillermo Lasso, after about 40 percent of the ballots were counted, figures of the National Electoral Council show.
The final results are not expected to change greatly, said the electoral authority.
Under Ecuador's electoral law, a presidential candidate wins outright in the first round if he or she garners more than 40 percent of the vote and has a 10-point advantage over the closest rival.
Right before the release of the official preliminary results, Correa had already begun celebrating his victory, given his overwhelming advantage against rival candidates in two exit polls.
"Today I am most committed than ever. We can't take a single step backwards. We have the immense trust of the people to definitely change the fatherland. May God reward you, the victory is from each and every one of you," Correa told a crowd of excited supporters.
Born in Guayaquil, Ecuador's second largest city, in 1963, Correa is a U.S.-trained economist who also speaks French, English and some Quechua, one of the country's most prevalent indigenous languages. He has fought for rights of the poor and working class and successfully negotiated to reduce Ecuador's foreign debt burden by some 60 percent.
Correa was first elected president in November 2006 and took office in January 2007 for a four-year term. But a new constitution in 2008 called for new elections, and he was re-elected in April 2009.
Leading one of South America's smallest nations, Correa gained worldwide fame in August 2012 for facing down U.S. and UK authorities and granting political asylum to WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange, who believed he was being persecuted by those world powers for his whistle-blowing website.
QUITO, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- President Rafael Correa won in the first-round of Ecuador's presidential poll on Sunday, according to two exit polls giving him around 60 percent of the vote, released as polls closed in the general elections.
National Electoral Council (CNE) is expected to announce the preliminary results at 19:30 local time (0030 GMT Monday). Full story