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Honduras: Hernandez declared election winner

December 18, 2017

The electoral court in Honduras has declared incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez as the winner of last month's election. The opposition has claimed electoral fraud and called for renewed protests.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez
Image: picture alliance/dpa/AP Photo/M. Castillo

Incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez won last month's contested election by 1.53 percentage points over center-left opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla, Honduras' electoral court said Sunday.

"This means the president elect for the Republic of Honduras for the next four years is Juan Orlando Hernandez Alvarado," said David Matamoros, the head of the electoral court, in a televised address.

Nasralla and his opposition alliance have claimed the November 26 presidential vote was marked by fraud and irregularities. 

Nasralla and his ally, former President Manuel Zelaya, have called for renewed protests. 

Read more: The faces behind Honduras' election turmoil

Questions linger around vote

Earlier Sunday, Organization of American States (OAS) head Luis Almagro said there were still "serious questions" surrounding the election results.

Honduras has been hit by political uncertainty for nearly three weeks, with repeated delays in the announcement of a winner fueling feelings that the vote had been rigged. 

Violent protests prompted the government to declare a state of emergency and dusk-to-dawn curfew.

At least 16 people, including two police officers, have been killed in protests since the vote, according to Honduras' National Human Rights Commission.

More than 1,600 people have been arrested. 

Nasralla had a 5-percent lead a day after the election with more than half the votes counted, but then fell behind when new numbers were announced 36 hour later.

The opposition first demanded a recount of all ballot boxes, then later filed for the results to be annulled and called for a new election. 

The electoral court agreed to recount more than 5,000 of 18,128 ballot boxes that presented irregularities. From the date of the election it had 30 days to announce official results. The recount was done in presence of observers from Honduras, the European Union and OAS. 

"After comparing a large random sample of voting records provided to us by the [opposition] alliance and the original records published on the tribunal's website, the mission observed that the results presented practically no differences," said Jose Antonio de Gabriel, the adjunct head of the EU's mission.

Read more: Opinion — Honduras crisis was long in the making

The official results were announced the same day Nasralla flew to Washington to meet with OAS officials, the US State Department and human rights organizations to present evidence of election fraud. The opposition leader had said that if the results were announced in his absence Hernandez would be committing a new crime. 

In a statement late Sunday, Nasralla said on Facebook that there was fraud "before, during and after" the election. He called the electoral court announcement a "desperate move."

Hernandez, a conservative, was controversially allowed by the Supreme Court to run for a second term despite a one-term limit. The opposition says the top court, which it claims is stacked with Hernandez loyalists, did not have authority to make the decision and has said a second term is illegal. 

The plight of street children in Honduras

cw/cmk (EFE, Reuters)