QUITO, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Ecuador's presidential election is heading to a runoff as the leading ruling party candidate Lenin Moreno failed to garner an absolute majority in the first-round race on Feb. 19, according to results released by National Electoral Council (CNE) on Thursday.
"On April 2, there will be a runoff between the two presidential tickets Moreno-Glas and Lasso-Paez," the head of the CNE, Juan Pablo Pozo, posted on Twitter, referring to the leading candidates and their running mates.
According to results released by the CNE, with 99.5 percent of the votes counted, Moreno, the candidate of the ruling PAIS Alliance party, won 39.3 percent of the vote, while his closest contender Guillermo Lasso received 28.1 percent.
The remaining votes were divided among another six contenders.
To win in the first round and avoid a runoff, Ecuadorian law requires a candidate to win an outright majority of more than 50 percent, or get at least 40 percent of the votes with a 10-point advantage over the runner-up.
Ecuador's President Rafael Correa reacted to the news via Twitter, telling Lasso "it would have been better to lose in a single round, because there will be a resounding victory for Lenin."
Earlier in the day, Correa predicted Moreno, his former vice president from 2007 to 2013, will easily win a second round.
Lasso, a former banker, served as economy minister under Ecuador's deposed president Jamil Mahuad (1998-2000), who plunged the country into financial crisis.
His ties to Mahuad work against him. However, if Lasso manages to unify the opposition behind him, and draws their collective support over to his side, then it could be a tightly contested second round.
Asked if Lasso has a chance, Correa said "it's always possible, the decision belongs to the Ecuadorian people."
Lasso's most publicized campaign pledges have been to generate a million jobs and to eject anti-secrecy WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Ecuador granted the whistleblower refuge at its embassy some five years ago, though at the time no one expected his case to drag on for so long.
Correa, who first came to power in 2007, declined to run for a fourth term last year. He is expected to leave office on May 24.
In Sunday's voting, the ruling party did score a major win in Congress, securing an ample majority in the National Assembly with 79 of 137 seats, according to state news agency Andes.