Honduras in limbo as votes for president are counted


Honduras in limbo as votes for president are counted

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Supporters of President Hernández want him to stay in office for four more years

Supporters of the incumbent and the opposition candidate in Honduras' presidential poll have been celebrating after both claimed victory.

The electoral tribunal released partial results on Monday which gave the opposition candidate, Salvador Nasralla, a five-percentage-point lead over President Juan Orlando Hernández.

But Mr Hernández says he is convinced once the votes from rural areas come in, he will move ahead of Mr Nasralla.

Final results are expected by Thursday.

With 57% of the votes counted, Mr Nasralla had 45.17% and President Hernández 40.21%.

Salvador Nasralla

Image copyright Reuters
  • 64-year-old former TV presenter and sports journalist
  • Heads the Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship, a coalition of parties from the left and the right
  • His parents are of Lebanese descent
  • Ran for the presidency in 2013 but lost to Juan Orlando Hernández
  • Has campaigned on a promise to battle corruption

Juan Orlando Hernández

Image copyright Reuters
  • 49-year-old lawyer
  • Heads the right-wing National Alliance
  • Is the 15th of 17 children, two of his siblings are also in politics
  • Is the first Honduran president to run for a second term after the supreme court lifted a ban on re-election
  • Says that if elected, he will continue fighting Honduras' influential criminal gangs

The electoral tribunal said it would not release any further updates until all the votes had been counted, which could take until midday local time on Thursday.

The tribunal said the slow pace of the count was down to the votes from remote rural areas taking relatively long to arrive at the counting centre.

Honduran election observes were critical of what they said was an unprecedented delay in the count.

But on Twitter, electoral tribunal president David Matamoros said [in Spanish] the count was completely transparent, with the parties, the European Union and the Organization of American States all given access to the electoral records.

Supporters of Mr Nasralla gathered in front of the electoral tribunal to celebrate their candidates early lead.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Supporters of Mr Nasralla waved flags in front of the electoral tribunal
Image copyright AFP
Image caption But those backing President Hernández also celebrated

Mr Nasralla, a 64-year-old former sports reporter and TV presenter, is a well-known figure in Honduras thanks to the game shows and sports programme he has hosted.

While he has little political experience, Mr Nasralla has the backing of former president Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted in 2009.

He has campaigned on an anti-corruption ticket and heads a broad coalition of parties from the left and the right.

President Hernández's supporters also followed his call to show their backing and took to the streets in equally jubilant mood.

During his four-year term he focussed on improving security in Honduras, which has one of the highest murder rates in the world.

He is seen as a close ally of the United States, which has contributed financially to his fight against the country's powerful criminal gangs.

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