The Associated PressTEGUCIGALPA (AP) — The final vote count in Honduras’ presidential election left the incumbent with a narrow lead Monday, while the main opposition candidate called the tally a fraud and urged the armed forces to take control “to ensure the votes of people are respected.”
Electoral officials said they were not declaring a winner yet, to allow the filing of challenges and appeals.
Opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla said at a news conference that he would take his case for a wide recount to the Organization of American States after a hand-count of more 1,000 problematic ballot boxes wrapped up Monday, eight days after the election.
“I am the president-elect of Honduras, the president chosen by the people,” said Nasralla, who had a five-point lead when nearly 58 percent of the votes were counted in the first hours after the Nov. 26 election. The count then slowed dramatically, and his lead gradually disappeared as results dribbled out, leading the opposition to claim the election was being stolen by President Juan Orlando Hernandez.
Nasralla said he wants the OAS “to examine all the electoral documents that Hernandez manipulated to rob me of my victory.” Over the weekend, he also called for a redo of the entire presidential election.
Nasralla, a well-known TV personality, alleged Monday that the special hand-count was a “fraud” with “false, fixed, arranged votes.”
Officials blamed the slowness in the count on technical problems and deny any manipulation of votes.
Hernandez, who also already claimed victory, took to social media to urge calm and national unity.
“I extend my hand to all contenders and sectors of the country to build a new Honduras,” he tweeted. “The results of this election leave us with a great hope ... My commitment to working for peace and tranquility in Honduras is more alive than ever.”
Hernandez expanded his lead in the final count by the electoral tribunal from about 46,000 votes to about 52,000.
Tribunal president David Matamoros said 100 percent of the ballots had been tabulated — although the website still showed 0.04 percent left to count. He said the court was not declaring a winner.
“We will do that later,” Matamoros said, adding that parties will have 10 days to challenge the results.
The last ballot boxes that presented “inconsistencies” were examined without the presence of Nasralla and his Opposition Against Dictatorship alliance, which chose not to send representatives as vote tallying continued.
The U.S. Embassy said in a statement that it was “pleased Honduran election authorities completed the special scrutiny process in a way that maximizes citizen participation and transparency.”
It also said it supports international election observers working “to increase the transparency of the process” and called on politicians “to ensure a result that represents the will of the Honduran people.”Speech