Ecuador's President Rafael Correa addresses his supporters from a balcony of Carondelet Palace in Quito (Reuters)
Rafael Correa has dedicated his second re-election as Ecuadorian president to his cancer-stricken friend and political ally, Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.
The 48-year-old socialist leader won another four-year term with almost 57 percent of the vote, 34 percent ahead of his closest challenger Guillermo Lasso.
"I take the opportunity to dedicate this victory to a great Latin American leader who changed Venezuela, Commander Hugo Chavez," Correa said. "I admire him a lot."
Correa is a fiery supporter of Chavez's "Bolivarian" economic policies for an independent Latin America free from US influence. Both Venezuela and Ecuador are members of the leftist Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (Alba) bloc of Latin American and Caribbean nations.
"This is not just a victory for Ecuador, this is a victory for the great homeland of Latin America," Correa said.
Analysts say Correa, a US-trained economist, is likely to take Chavez's role as Alba leader, as the 58-year-old Venezuelan president struggles to recover from cancer.
"We are building this together," Correa commented. "We [Alba Leaders] don't seek anything for us but we stay where is the most useful for our home countries and for our great homeland."
Chavez, who underwent his fourth course of cancer surgery in 18 months in Havana two months ago, congratulated Correa for his election success and described it as "a victory for Alba."
The Venezuelan president, who is set to return to Caracas after a two-month confinement in a Havana Hospital bed, said he shares the Ecuadorian people's "overwhelming joy" for Correa's "resounding victory."
"The re-election of President Correa is a victory of Alba, the Bolivarian and socialist forces of Our America," a statement by Chavez read.
"We will build, sooner than later, the Nation of Republics dreamed by Simon Bolivar."
First elected in 2007, Correa is widely credited with bringing political stability to Ecuador and improving the country's living standards.
The president has improved access to healthcare and education and Ecuador's poverty rate has dropped nearly five percent in the last five years, according to the UN.
However many accuse him of using undemocratic and dictatorial methods.
"He thinks that because he wins elections he has the right to mistreat people," German Calapucha, a 29-year-old elector, said.
"He controls everything. He is a sort of Sun King of the 21st Century," Alberto Acosta, who co-founded Correa's Alianza Pais party before joining the opposition, told the BBC.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his Ecuadorian counterpart Rafael Correa (Reuters)
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