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Honduras election: Violent clashes ahead of final result


Honduras election: Violent clashes ahead of final result

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Supporters of Salvador Nasralla clashed with riot police in the capital Tegucigalpa

Riot police in Honduras have clashed with supporters of the main opposition contender in the presidential election, Salvador Nasralla, after he accused the electoral court of fraud.

Police fired tear gas at protesters on the streets near the centre where the result is due to be announced.

Incumbent Juan Orlando Hernández, who is seeking a second term, is thought to be ahead by about 40,000 votes.

Both Mr Hernández and Mr Nasralla had earlier claimed victory.

In addition to the clashes in the capital Tegucigalpa, there are reports of demonstrators marching on some of the country's main roads.

The election in the Central American country of nine million people has been widely criticised, and vote counting has dragged on for four days.

With more than 90% of the ballots reportedly counted, the incumbent president has moved ahead of his opposition rival.

At the beginning of the week Mr Nasralla, whose supporters are deeply suspicious of the electoral tribunal that counts the ballots, had established a lead of five percentage points.

However, as his lead diminished in the days that followed, Mr Nasralla accused the authorities of manipulating the results.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Salvador Nasralla alleges he is being robbed of his election victory

Tension was lowered temporarily on Wednesday when both Mr Nasralla and Mr Hernández signed a document vowing to respect the final result after every disputed vote had been scrutinised.

But another pause in counting attributed by the electoral tribunal to a computer glitch led to Mr Nasralla saying a few hours later that the document "had no validity".

"They take us for idiots and want to steal our victory," he said and again rallied his supporters to protest.

The distrust over the poll count is partly due to the fact that the tribunal is appointed by Congress, which is controlled by Mr Hernández's National Party, and partly due to the sudden reversal of Mr Nasralla's initial lead.

There has also been criticism of the slow pace of the count, which came to a 36-hour halt after the first partial results were released on Monday.

Image copyright AFP/Reuters
Image caption Salvador Nasralla (left) is challenging Juan Orlando Hernández for the presidency

Salvador Nasralla

  • 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

  • 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's influential criminal gangs

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