Tegucigalpa (Honduras): Millions of Hondurans who cast their votes on Sunday to elect a new president are confused now as both the incumbent and his rival are claiming victory even before the announcement of results.
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez of National Party told a cheering crowd that the result is more than clear — he has won. Shortly afterwards, Salvador Nasralla of the leftist Alliance of Opposition Against Dictatorship announced he is the winner.
However, when 57% of the vote was counted, Nasralla was polling 45.7% of the vote to Hernandez’s 40.2 percent.
While the results are yet to be announced, the election was unprecedented as an incumbent Honduran president was for the first time seeking re-election.
Hernandez was projected to win the elections. Opinion polls in October gave him a 15-point lead over Nasralla.
In a landmark ruling in 2015, the Supreme Court had overturned the article in the constitution prohibiting presidential re-election. But rival parties are questioning Hernandez’s candidacy. They say only people have the power to change the constitution. They also point out that Hernande had opposed former President Manuel Zelaya when he sought a referendum on re-election in 2009 and even supported his ouster.
Nasralla’s Alliance and coalition partner Liberal Party say they will not accept the election results until they conduct their own vote count.
During his tenure, Hernande was able to arrest crime rate, spur economic growth and draw funds from overseas investors. In his recent election campaigns, Hernande said if elected, he will continue the crackdown on criminals and drug-traffickers and ensure safety to citizens with a large military presence in the streets. Honduras is among countries with the highest crime rates in the Americas.
Hernandez also promised to spend more on infrastructure, create more jobs and ensure a 6% GDP growth.
Nasralla’s poll pitch was on curbing corruption, spending more on public health and education and introducing agrarian reforms.