The leading candidates in Honduras’ presidential election, conservative Juan Orlando Hernandez and leftist Xiomara Castro, both claimed victory late Sunday, risking a wave of new unrest in the impoverished nation.
Both leading candidates running for Honduras president late on Sunday declared victory, a move that observers fear could trigger new unrest in the impoverished Central American country.
After more than half the votes were counted, conservative Juan Orlando Hernandez held the lead with 34 percent, against 29 percent for leftist Xiomara Castro.
After the polls closed, however, both candidates rejoiced in their individual “wins”.
Castro, the wife of former president Manuel Zelaya who was ousted in a 2009 coup, said in a tweet, "based on exit polls that I have received from around the country, I can tell you: I am the president of Honduras."
In contrast, Hernandez on his end declared, "I will be the next president of Honduras.”
“I am going to do everything it takes to bring peace back to the people," he told reporters.
Candidates want to fight crime and poverty
Hernandez and Castro are vying to succeed President Porfirio Lobo, who was elected following a coup in a controversial poll boycotted by Zelaya's leftist allies.
Castro, 54, with the Libre Party, hopes to become the first female president of Honduras, the poorest country in the Americas after Haiti. An estimated 71 percent of the population lives in poverty.
Hernandez, the 45-year-old head of congress from the ruling National Party, is a law-and-order conservative who has vowed to use soldiers to control crime.
Honduras, with a population of 8.5 million, records some 20 murders a day -- the highest rate in the world, according to UN figures.
After declaring victory, Hernandez extended an olive branch to Castro, inviting her and Zelaya to work on a "national pact to improve life."
Hernandez said that he would also reach out to the other six presidential candidates so that "we can all work together" for the benefit of Honduras.
Claims of foul play
But ex-president Zelaya, who commands a strong following among labor and farmer groups, described it as a "theft" at the ballot box, claiming there had been "serious inconsistencies" in 20 percent of the polling stations and that "Xiomara [Castro] won the presidency."
"They are stealing the election from us," he said, adding his party would not recognise the official results and would announce a course of action on Monday.
Similarly, Libre vice-presidential candidate Enrique Reina claimed the results were "being manipulated" to favour Hernandez.
Salvador Nasrallah, a popular sportscaster and candidate of the Anticorruption Party who was in fourth place, also questioned the official returns.
“Our data do not match the official data that the system is transmitting,” he said.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)
Date created : 2013-11-25