updated 9/30/2007 10:14:56 PM ET 2007-10-01T02:14:56

Ecuador’s leftist president insisted his allies have triumphed in Sunday’s election of an assembly to write a new constitution as he seeks a socialist model to bring stability to this impoverished Andean nation.

President Rafael Correa said his supporters had achieved “a historic victory,” citing projections of the vote count without elaborating.

No official results had been released to support Correa’s claim of victory. The tally of complete official results is expected to take at least 20 days.

“We accept this triumph with great humility and total responsibility. We know we cannot fail,” he said.

Correa’s opponents accuse him of seeking to concentrate power and note he proposes letting presidents serve two consecutive four-year terms instead of the one allowed now. Correa denies he plans to maintain himself in power indefinitely.

His push for a new charter follows in the footsteps of leftist leaders Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia.

Pave the way for socialism
Correa, who took office in January, says the assembly will pave the way for socialism but has not detailed his reforms.

Pre-election polls showed Ecuadoreans, disillusioned with their political system, were likely to give the president’s new political movement the greatest number of seats in the 130-member body, but they’ll need a 66-seat majority to firmly control the agenda.

Correa sought to ease concerns of Ecuadoreans who have accused him of seeking to concentrate power in the presidency to impose a leftist agenda. He said his supporters would hold talks with any party interested in achieving a consensus on reforms.

“No one is seeking totalitarian projects, even worse, foreign projects,” he said, referring to concerns that he is seeking to emulate the leftist presidents of Venezuela and Bolivia.

Mostly peaceful
Voting was peaceful in most of the country, but angry voters in a village in Esmeraldas province on Ecuador’s coast burned two ballot boxes, forcing suspension of voting there, officials said.

Correa, 44, a former economy minister, says the assembly is necessary to eliminate the power of traditional political parties he blames for the country’s problems.

An overwhelming 82 percent voted in April to create the assembly, which will have the power to dismiss any elected official.

Correa is expected to call for the closing Congress and replacing it with a parliamentary commission until a legislature is elected under a new charter.

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