One week after the Nov. 26 Honduran presidential election, there is still no winner.
With 99.96 percent of the votes counted, President Juan Orlando Hernandez holds a small lead. But his opponent, Salvador Nasralla, has accused the government of stealing the election and called for street protests.
Hernandez had 42.98 percent of the vote and Nasralla received 41.39 percent, after a partial recount of more than 1,000 voting locations.
Nasralla and his supporters have boycotted the results. They said the recount did not go far enough. They said it only reviewed about 1,000 polling stations instead of the more than 5,000 they had demanded.
David Matamoros is a member of Hernandez’s party and head of the country’s electoral tribunal. He refused to declare a winner. He told reporters that parties can still file legal challenges, and a wider recount is possible.
The Organization of American States said on Sunday that Nasralla’s demands to recount more than 5,000 polling stations were possible. It urged the tribunal to make further checks.
Nasralla had an early lead
Early last week, Nasralla, a former television presenter, appeared set to win the election over the current president. He had a five-point lead with more than half of the ballots counted.
Then, the vote counting was suddenly stopped. When it restarted more than a day later, the vote count began to favor Hernandez.
The government ordered a curfew last Friday. It also expanded the army’s power to detain people and break up barriers of roads, bridges and public buildings.
Nasralla asked the armed forces not to enforce the curfew. He urged his supporters to start a national strike on Monday.
“I call on all members of the armed forces to rebel against your bosses,” Nasralla told a crowd of supporters Sunday at a large rally in the capital city of Tegucigalpa.
Television images showed similar protests in other major cities. While there were no reports of violence on Sunday, hundreds have been arrested and at least three people have been killed in recent days.
Also on Sunday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accused the United States of backing vote fraud in Honduras.
But officials at the U.S. embassy praised the peaceful protests and the “orderly” final count that was underway.
Honduras has struggled with violent drug gangs, high murder rate and poverty. After taking office in 2014, Hernandez began a military-led crackdown on gang violence. He has been supported by U.S. President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly.
Nasralla is a well-known television star. Former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya is among his supporters. Zelaya was removed from office in a coup in 2009.
I'm Jonathan Evans.
Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on Reuters and other news reports. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
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Words in This Story
partial - adj. not complete
tribunal - n. a court that has authority in a specific area
challenge - n. a refusal to accept something as legal