Elections body extends deadline for Honduras vote challenges

Tegucigalpa, Dec 3 (EFE).- Honduras’ National Electoral Council (CNE) on Friday announced a 72-hour extension of the time allotted to candidates for challenging the ballots cast in the Nov. 28 general election.

The CNE said the decision was made by the institution as a whole and extended the limit established by election law beyond a midnight Friday deadline.

That extension comes after congressional candidates from the Savior of Honduras Party (PSH), founded and led by presumed first Vice President-elect Salvador Nasralla, and the ruling conservative National Party of Honduras (PNH) denounced alleged fraud.

Nasralla has alleged numerous ballot irregularities and said that candidates from his party were eliminated with the aim of boosting the PNH’s legislative representation.

Several National Party candidates, meanwhile, have said they are being denied seats in the National Congress, presumably in favor of their party colleagues.

Vote tallies show that Nasralla’s party and the allied Liberty and Refoundation (Libre) Party of presumed President-elect Xiomara Castro will have a majority in Congress.

The CNE also announced that with a view to “preventing and combating” electoral crimes it has requested the “permanent presence” of a dozen prosecutors at the Electoral Logistics Center, where ballots are being verified.

A total of 14 parties and 12 presidential candidates took part in the general election. According to the latest CNE bulletin, released Friday after 68 percent of the ballots had been tallied, Castro thus far has received 1,209,846 votes (or 51.41 percent of the total).

The 62-year-old leader of the Libre Party has a lead of more than 15 percentage points over Tegucigalpa Mayor Nasry Asfura, the National Party’s candidate.

Although the CNE has not yet declared a winner ahead of the Dec. 28 deadline, Castro took a big step to becoming her nation’s first female president when Asfura conceded the race on Tuesday.

Castro is a former first lady and wife of former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, whose ouster in a June 28, 2009, military coup ushered in 12 years of National Party rule.

The Nov. 28 election was notable for a large turnout that was driven by anger at the corruption-ridden National Party, with more than 60 percent of Honduras’ roughly 5.2 million registered voters participating.

Hondurans also cast ballots for three vice presidents, 128 legislators, 20 members of the Central American Parliament and 298 city councillors.

The general election was the 11th in Honduras since democracy was restored in the early 1980s after 17 years of nearly continuous military rule. EFE


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