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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Ecuador official confirms runoff

Ecuadorean election officials confirmed Tuesday that banana tycoon Alvaro Noboa was the top vote getter in Oct. 15 elections and will face leftist Rafael Correa next month in a presidential runoff.

The head of Ecuador's electoral commission, Xavier Cazar, told reporters that with 99.87 percent of the paper ballots counted, 55-year-old Noboa, Ecuador's wealthiest man, led all candidates with 27 percent. Correa, 43, a U.S.-trained economist running on an antiestablishment ticket, came in second in the field of 13 candidates with 23 percent.

The winner needed 50 percent, or at least 40 percent and a 10-point lead over the rest of the field, to avoid Nov. 26 runoff.

The runoff race is already shaping up into a mudslinging affair, with Noboa labeling Correa a "communist" and his rival firing back that Noboa wants to turn all of Ecuador into one more of his banana plantations.

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