Honduras tribunal says incumbent Hernandez won election

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 17, 2017 6:42 PM

By Gustavo Palencia

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - The electoral tribunal of Honduras on Sunday declared incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez as the official winner of the Nov. 26 presidential vote, an outcome that sparked calls for renewed street protests after a bitterly disputed election.

Hernandez beat center-left challenger Salvador Nasralla, a TV star, by 1.53 percentage points, according to the official count.

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

Matamoros said the tribunal had resolved all the challenges presented to it and that votes were recounted at select polling stations.

Honduras has been roiled by political instability and violent protests since the vote, which initial counts suggested that Nasralla had won. The count has been questioned by the two main opposition parties and a wide swath of the diplomatic corps.

Former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, who backed Nasralla, immediately took to Twitter, saying Hernandez "is not our president" and calling for people to take to the streets in protest.

The secretary general of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, said earlier on Sunday that "serious questions" still surrounded the election results and had asked for "irresponsible announcements" to be avoided.

The tribunal had initially declared Nasralla the leader in an announcement on the morning after the vote, with just over half of the ballot boxes counted. It then gave no further updates for about 36 hours.

Once results started flowing in again, Nasralla's lead began narrowing and eventually disappeared.

That prompted national protests, in which 22 people were killed, including two police officers, according to data tallied by the Committee of Detained Disappeared Persons in Honduras.

(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Peter Cooney)