Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez’s celebrations at being the first re-elected leader in his country’s history may have been premature, according to the latest election results.

Incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez may have spoken too soon when he claimed victory in the Honduran presidential election. The latest results indicate rival Salvador Nasralla is on course for an upset victory.

With 70% of ballots counted in the Honduran presidential election, opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla maintains a five point lead over President Juan Orlando Hernandez, and is set to win, an election official said on Monday.

An earlier count from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, with 57% of the ballots counted, had also given Nasralla a five-point lead. The Tribunal said Nasralla had 45.17% of the vote, while the US-friendly Hernandez had only 40.2%.

Third-placed candidate Luis Zelaya said Nasralla was the country’s new leader, and he urged Hernandez to accept defeat. However, the outcome of the vote remains unclear after both Hernandez and Nasralla claimed victory.

“If the trends do not change, I can tell you that I will be the new president of Honduras,” Nasralla said.

But Hernandez’s ruling National Party reassured supporters that Hernandez was ahead in the count. The party’s leader, Reynaldo Sanchez, told members “to prepare our people to defend the triumph in the streets” in a recorded video message.

Hernandez’s popularity had largely been based on a drastic drop in the rate of violence under his presidency. Honduras has long been wracked by poverty and violence, and not long ago claimed one of the highest homicide rates in the world.

Hernandez also favors closer ties to the USA. His campaign website includes a quote from US Vice President Mike Pence, lauding him “for his leadership in addressing security and governance challenges.”

Six million people were eligible to cast ballots for a president, three vice presidents, members of Congress and nearly 300 mayors. Initial reports suggest a high voter turnout and few incidents of voting irregularities.

Now, there are major concerns about the “length of time” authorities are taking to count the votes. There have also been accusations of corruption, and most recently via The Economist magazine, allegations of outright vote rigging via a recording that, if authenticated, suggests the ruling party was planning to distort results in the elections.

BBC / AA Magnum Analyst Blog News 2017.

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