Tegucigalpa, Nov 30 (EFE).- The general elections last Sunday in Honduras, in which leftist Xiomara Castro has emerged as the top presidential votegetter, were held amid an atmosphere of calm, but the campaign was marked by the “abuse of state resources” and unprecedented political violence, the European Union said Tuesday.
According to the latest vote tally released by the National Election Council (CNE), as of 4 pm on Tuesday, with 52.41 percent of the ballots counted, Castro had garnered 976,107 votes (53.42 percent) to 622,382 (34.06 percent) for Nasry Asfura, with the governing National Party.
The preliminary report issued by the European Union’s Electoral Observation Mission, presented on Tuesday in Tegucigalpa, says that the elections were characterized by a “very politicized” management, “unprecedented levels of political” violence and the evident abuse of state resources during the campaign.
The distribution of social aid bonuses by the state increased during the campaign, as well as the cases of pressure by government officials on public employees to get them to attend National Party rallies, the observer document presented by Eurodeputy Zeljana Zovko said.
She added that Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and officials of his government “engaged in an active campaign in favor of the National Party,” something that is “prohibited by law.”
EU observers reported “the unwarranted use of administrative resources via the increase in the distribution of aid bonuses in eight (of the 18) provinces, in connection with activities of the National Party campaign.”
They also noted “the launching of public projects, as well as the distribution of food and supply packets by the National Party, Liberal and Free Party in 14 provinces.”
The election campaign was marked by political violence, Zovko said, adding that the murders of six mayors, along with various candidates and activists before the vote were greatly regrettable.
“Threats and intimidation were generalized during the campaign. The rhetoric on the social networks became more hostile as the elections approached, with cases of accusations, attacks and insults,” she emphasized.
The report said that political polarization in the Central American country “has increased” since the 2017 elections, when Hernandez was reelected, due to questioned results, the socio-economic crisis stemming from the pandemic and the effects of Hurricanes Eta and Iota in November 2020.
The president of the EU delegation, Javier Nart, meanwhile, emphasized that Hondurans participated with “enormous civic spirit” in the election amid an atmosphere of “normality and calm,” adding that the public “could freely express their democratic will,” going on to emphasize the activities of women at the precincts and as election observers.
Nart urged all candidates and political parties to “act with prudence and restraint, and to accept the results” to be made public by electoral authorities.
Fourteen parties and 12 presidential candidates participated in the election in Honduras, where there is no runoff round and the candidate who garners the most votes in the one-and-only balloting becomes president.
Despite the fact that she has not been confirmed as the new president-elect, and the CNE has 30 days after the vote to issue a definitive ballot tally, an economic team set up by Castro met on Tuesday with representatives of the private sector to discuss “strategic issues” for the country’s economic, energy and social development.
Castro is the wife of former President Manuel Zelaya, and the Honduran Private Business Council (Cohep) said in a Twitter post that it recommended to her economic team that she promote “a new education policy, increase transparency, combat corruption and generate inclusive economic growth in Honduras.”
More than 68 percent of the 5.1 million eligible voters participated in the election for president, three vice presidents, 128 lawmakers for the local Parliament, 20 Central American Parliament legislators and 298 mayors. EFE ac/cpy/bp