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Hernandez lead 'irreversible' in Honduras

Country's electoral body says ruling party candidate's win certain in presidential race as opposition rejects results.

Last updated: 26 Nov 2013 23:37
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Hundreds of protesters have blocked streets in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa in support of leftist presidential candidate, Xiomara Castro, who is claiming victory despite conservatives Juan Hernandez showing a definite lead. 

About 400 supporters of leftist Xiomara Castro came out in protest of Monday's polls suggesting that the coservative candidate stood ahead in the presidential elections. "We get a (post-secondary) degree, we come out and still cannot find a  job," grumbled the demonstrator, who said Castro's Libre party "makes it its  business to be concerned with the poor."

Honduras' top electoral body has said that conservative Juan Orlando Hernandez's lead in the presidential elections was "irreversible", according to votes counted at two-thirds of the polling stations.

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal said on Monday that the vote count stood at 34.08 percent for Hernandez of the ruling right-wing National Party, compared to 28.92 percent for leftist Xiomara Castro, the wife of Manuel Zelaya, the overthrown former president.

"The outcome is decisive. The figures that we have reported reflect a trend that is irreversible. The outcome is not going to change," said David Matamoros, the head of the electoral body.

Political tension gripped Honduras throughout Monday as both candidates claimed victory and Castro rejected the results announced by the tribunal. Castro's Libre Party also threatened to take to the streets.

The impartiality of the electoral body has consistently been called into question by the Libre Party.

Hundreds of Castro supporters protested in front of the tribunal on Monday amid a heavy police and military deployment across the nation.

However, Hernandez said that the result was "not negotiable with anybody" and he named a transition team to succeed Porfirio Lobo, the current president, urging Castro to join him in a "great national pact" against violence and poverty.

Country in turmoil

The clash between Hernandez and Castro brought new uncertainty to a country reeling from gang violence, poverty and the wounds of a 2009 coup that removed Zelaya from his seat.

Hernandez' election win ensures continuity for outgoing Lobo's right-leaning economic policies.

He saw his poll numbers surge in recent weeks by casting himself as the candidate of law and order, a top issue for most voters in a country of 8.5 million that records 20 murders a day - the highest rate in the world, according to UN figures.

Honduras is the poorest country in the Americas after Haiti with the majority of the population living in poverty.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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