Hondurans anxious not to have results yet in the presidential elections



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TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Hondurans waited anxiously with no results published hours after the polls closed for Sunday's presidential election, while both the president and his principal rival claimed victory after what appeared to be large turnout of voters.

The electoral authorities asked for calm during the night of Sunday while the votes were counted.

Analysts speculated that the lateness of the recount could indicate an unexpected tight run after a campaign in which President Juan Orlando Hernandez was considered a strong favorite.

"The situation is critical," said sociologist Julio Navarro. "The message of the (electoral) court is that the results are close."

While the votes were counted, Hernández, a conservative ally of the United States. UU., He was the first of the nine candidates in the race to sing the victory. "We won this election," he told supporters.

Salvador Nasralla, the candidate of the leftist Alliance of Opposition Against the Dictatorship, quickly claimed victory for himself.

Both candidates said they based their claims on voter surveys during the day. Participation seems to be strong throughout the country, with relatively minor irregularities reported.

The other main candidate, Luis Zelaya, a middle on the road representing the traditional Liberal Party, opted for caution and made no comment after canceling a press conference. There were six more candidates from small opposition parties.

Hernandez won his support for popularity in large part due to the fall of violence in this impoverished Central American country, whose homicide rate was one of the worst in the world. The National Autonomous University of Honduras says the rate has dropped to 59 homicides per 100,000 people from a dizzying 91.6 peak in 2011.

But accusations of corruption and drug trafficking overshadow his government.

And his re-election bid They fed accusations that the president's National Party sought to entrench itself in power by trampling the country's institutions with judicial approval for the president to seek a second term.

Fears of that kind of consolidation, but by a leftist rival allied with Venezuela – Led Hernandez's party to support a military coup in 2009 against a president accused of conspiring to violate the constitutional prohibition of apparently iron presidential reelection.

The highest court in the country supported the overthrow of President Manuel Zelaya in 2009. But the current court is full of supporters of Hernandez and ruled in 2015 that the constitutional ban was nullified by the right of a citizen to seek re-election.

"Here in Honduras there is no democracy, there is a dictatorship," Zelaya told The Associated Press on Saturday night. "The hypocrisy of the Honduran elite is evident … people will have to decide at the polls."

In addition to the people in Honduras, tens of thousands of Hondurans were eligible to cast their ballots in seven US cities: Atlanta, New Orleans, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Houston and Washington.

The general elections on Sunday were 10 in Honduras since the country returned to democracy in 1980 after almost two decades of military regimes.

Despite its popularity, Hernández had a weak point in the perception of corruption.

A convicted drug dealer testified in a New York court this year that he met with Hernandez's brother, Antonio, to get the Honduran government to pay its debts to a company that the drug dealer's cartel used to launder money. Leonel Rivera Maradiaga, former leader of the cartel known as the Cachiros, testified that Antonio Hernández asked him for a bribe in exchange for contracts with the government. The brother denied that accusation.

And in September, the son of a former president of Hernandez's party, Porfirio Lobo was sentenced in New York to 24 years in prison after revealing his role in a cocaine trafficking conspiracy. Fabio Lobo, 46, pleaded guilty in May 2016, admitting that he worked with drug traffickers and the Honduran police to send cocaine to the United States.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material can not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed.

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