Honduras election: Opposition candidate Castro in the lead

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Image source, EPA
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Supporters of Xiomara Castro were jubilant as preliminary results were announced

Honduran opposition candidate Xiomara Castro has a commanding lead in the country's presidential election, preliminary results suggest.

With half of the votes counted, the left-wing candidate is ahead of the governing party's Nasry Asfura by almost 20 percentage points.

However, Mr Asfura has not yet conceded defeat.

If she wins, Ms Castro will become the the first female president of the Central American nation.

If her win is confirmed, her presidency will put an end to 12 years in power of the right-wing National Party.

The National Party won the presidential election in November 2009, just months after Ms Castro's husband, Mel Zelaya, was ousted in a military coup.

Honduras has been led by National Party politicians ever since, first by Porfirio Lobo from 2010 to 2014, followed by Juan Orlando Hernández, whose re-election in 2018 was marred by widespread allegations of fraud.

While President Hernández did not run in Sunday's election, he and his party gave their backing to the mayor of Tegucigalpa, Nasry Asfura.

The National Party appeared certain of victory before the electoral authorities had even announced the first official results, and convened its supporters to a "victory rally" in the capital.

Later on, Mr Asfura urged his supporters in a tweet to be patient but stopped short of admitting defeat.

There was jubilation at the headquarters of the left-wing opposition Libre (Free) Party, where supporters danced and cheered as Xiomara Castro's lead was announced.

Writing on Twitter, Ms Castro thanked Hondurans for voting for her and said she would "transform 12 years of tears and pain into joy".

In a reference to President Juan Orlando Hernández, who has been dogged by allegations of ties to the drugs trade after his brother Antonio was jailed for trafficking in the United States, Ms Castro promised during her campaign to "pull Honduras out of the abyss" of "a narco-dictatorship and corruption".

While President Hernández has denied any wrongdoing, corruption ranked high in the concerns of voters, only surpassed by Honduras' high unemployment rate.

If she is confirmed as the winner, voters will look to Ms Castro, who describes herself as "a democratic socialist", to tackle these issues quickly.

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