Supporters of Salvador Nasralla, presidential candidate for the Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship, move tires toward a barricade settled to block road during a protest caused by the delayed vote count for the presidential election in Tegucigalpa, Honduras December 1, 2017. (Reuters)
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TEGUCIGALPA – At least one protester died and more than 20 people were injured in Honduras after a delayed presidential vote count sparked unrest amid opposition accusations of electoral fraud.
Honduras will publish the final result of last Sunday’s presidential election at 9 p.m. (0300 GMT) on Friday, said the head of the country’s electoral tribunal, David Matamoros.
The electoral court will hand-count some 1 031 outstanding ballots, or roughly six per cent of the total, that had irregularities, Matamoros said.
Election results initially favoured opposition candidate and TV star Salvador Nasralla by five points with half the votes counted. They then swung in favour of US-backed President Juan Orlando Hernandez after the count came to a halt on Monday and resumed over a day later.
With the regular ballot count completed, Hernandez, of the centre-right National Party, had a lead of fewer than 50 000 votes.
Luis Larach, president of business lobby COHEP, told Reuters that the slim, 1.5 percentage point difference between the candidates, meant the hand-count would be crucial.
“For me, it’s still up in the air,” he said.
International concern has grown about the electoral crisis in the poor Central American country, which struggles with violent drug gangs and one of the world’s highest murder rates.
Police sources said at least one man had been shot and killed at a protest in the city of La Ceiba, while about 12 members of the military and police force had been injured in demonstrations which snarled traffic outside Honduras’ main port on Friday and around the country.
At least ten protesters were injured in the capital of Tegucigalpa, according to the city’s Hospital Escuela.
Military officials called for peaceful protests after police reports of looting in the capital and other cities.
In the country’s second biggest city of San Pedro Sula, thick plumes of black smoke clouded the air as protesters burned tires and police tried to disperse the crowds with tear gas.
People flocked to supermarkets on Friday, stocking up on food and provisions as major roads and supply routes were blocked across the country by angry protesters.
Lines appeared outside gas stations and ATMs. Banks clogged up with people seeking to take out or deposit money.
Both Hernandez and Nasralla, a television game show host allied with leftists, claimed victory after the election, and the challenger has said he will not accept the tribunal’s result because of doubts over the counting process.
Leading a centre-left alliance, the 64-year-old Nasralla is one of Honduras’ best-known faces and backed by former President Manuel Zelaya, a leftist ousted in a coup in 2009. (Reuters)