- By Katy Watson in Quito and Jaroslav Lukiv in London
- BBC news
Left-winger Luisa Gonzalez is leading Ecuador’s presidential election due to the assassination of a candidate.
With about 80% of the vote counted, election officials say he got 33%, while his nearest rival, Daniel Noboa, a businessman, got 24%.
The top two candidates are now set to go into a run-off on October 15.
About 100,000 police and soldiers were deployed to secure Sunday’s first round of voting.
The snap election was called after President Guillermo Lasso – a conservative former banker – dissolved parliament to avoid impeachment.
Sunday’s vote was peaceful, much to the relief of Ecuadoreans fearing political violence gripping the country.
However, there have been a number of shooting incidents around the polls.
The new president will take office on October 26 and serve just 18 months – the remainder of Mr Lasso’s term.
Ms Gonzales, a 45-year-old protégé of leftist former President Rafael Correa, was seen as a firm favorite among the eight politicians vying for the presidency.
Ms. Gonzalez’s promise of a return to liberal social programs appealed to Ecuadorians in economic crisis.
But politically the electorate is divided.
Mr. Correa still looms large in the country: He cut poverty while in power, but was then embroiled in a corruption scandal and is now in exile in Belgium.
Those who want an end to his influence in Ecuador will support candidate Daniel Noboa, a 35-year-old businessman.
The only thing that unites Ecuadorians is their need for peace and security. Everyone is hoping for a peaceful campaign ahead of the elections.
Mr. Villavicencio, 59, was an outspoken journalist who exposed corruption and denounced links between organized crime and officials.
Six people, all Colombian nationals, have been arrested in connection with his murder.