The ruling conservative party’s candidate in Taiwanese diplomatic ally Honduras’ presidential election has won, the electoral tribunal said, but he stopped short short of making the announcement official.
The leftist rival’s camp insisted there was fraud and called for street protests.
The apparent winner, Juan Orlando Hernandez, is a law-and-order conservative who has promised a militarized program to improve public safety in the nation with the world’s highest murder rate, which is also among the poorest in Latin America.
Gangs run whole neighborhoods, extorting businesses as large as factories and as small as tortilla stands. Drug cartels use Honduras as a transfer point for shipping illegal drugs, especially cocaine, from South America to the US.
The tribunal said the numbers indicate Hernandez won last weekend’s election over leftist Xiomara Castro of the leftist Libre party.
“These numbers that we released today clearly indicate that the winner of the general election is Juan Orlando Hernandez,” said David Matamoros, president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, on radio and television.
Figures from 81.5 percent of polling stations give Hernandez 35.88 percent to Xiomara Castro’s 29.14 percent.
“In the coming days, we will issue the official declaration, once we have added the records that are needed,” he added.
The electoral tribunal had already said Hernandez’s lead was irreversible given the number of votes remaining to be counted.
However, Castro’s campaign accuses the Honduran Supreme Electoral Tribunal of manipulating 19 percent of the votes to favor Hernandez and plans to call for massive street rallies to protest the alleged fraud.
“On Saturday, we are going to summon people to protest. The Libre [Party] and Xiomara [Castro] have been robbed of their victory, and we are going to show it,” her husband, former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya, told Radio and TV Globo.
“For now, we do not recognize the results” that have been given, Zelaya said, insisting that they had been “manipulated, and we are going to prove it.”
He said the leftist party will stage peaceful protests, but insisted “respect for the people’s will, will be defended [with] everything we have.”
EU and Organization of American States observers called the voting process transparent and non-problematic.
“We will defend the will of the people as it was expressed at the polls,” Castro wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
Zelaya, meanwhile, said in a post that “we will confirm our victory.”