Incumbent president leads in disputed Honduran elections, but no winner declared

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, seeking a second term in office, continued to hold a slim lead Monday as officials largely completed the count in disputed national balloting.

But eight days after the voting, authorities had yet to proclaim a winner as the opposition continued to allege widespread fraud.

Uncertainty stemming from the Nov. 26 vote has generated a political crisis and prompted the government to call a dusk-to-dawn curfew in response to widespread street protests and looting.

Reports were circulating Monday that some police had refused to enforce the curfew and put down antigovernment protests in certain parts of the country and declared work stoppages — and that the stoppages were spreading. Top law enforcement officials, including Julian Pacheco, the government’s minister of security, went on television to say the situation was under control.

The chief presidential challenger, Salvador Nasralla — who has assailed what he called government-backed violence against the opposition — said in a Facebook post that he backed “the police who refuse to repress our people” and called on the military to follow suit.

With 99.98% of the national vote counted, the electoral tribunal’s website Monday showed the president with 42.98%, compared with 41.38%, for Nasralla, a television personality who ran on an anti-corruption pledge. The remaining vote went to other parties.

Both candidates have already declared victory.

But even with most of the count completed Monday, the head of the election tribunal, David Matamoros, did not announce a winner. Political parties can still file legal challenges, Matamoros said.

The main opposition coalition, the Alliance Against the Dictatorship, is demanding a broad recount, alleging numerous irregularities in balloting that has seen mysterious technical crashes, delayed results and widely varying tallies of who is winning. The electoral court has not ruled out the possibility of conducting a broad recount.

Nasralla, the opposition alliance standard-bearer, called on the Organization of American States to investigate what he called pervasive fraud in the balloting.

“They keep robbing us,” Nasralla told reporters Monday, charging that the current government “was not legitimate.”

Nasralla has also labeled the electoral tribunal, which runs the electoral process, as a tool of the ruling party and its allies. Matamoros, who heads the tribunal, has defended its independence.

Hernandez, who enjoys close relations with Washington, has urged calm as the crisis has gripped the country.

His candidacy was controversial from the start of his campaign. A Honduran Supreme Court ruling allowed him to seek a second term in apparent violation of the constitution.

Despite the curfew, opposition activists have been leaving their homes after dusk to bang pots and pans in protest of the electoral results.

On Monday, the U.S. Embassy here said it was “pleased” that Honduran electoral authorities had concluded the special count of final ballots “in a way that maximizes citizen participation and transparency.”

Cecilia Sanchez of The Times’ Mexico City bureau contributed to this report.

patrick.mcdonnell@latimes.com

Twitter: @PmcdonnellLAT

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