A man throws a stone at riot police after clashes erupted near the National Autonomous University in Tegucigalpa

Honduras’ president-elect names transition team as protesters claim fraud

Honduras’ newly elected president named his transition team Tuesday, while about 200 students protested to demand a recount of the vote in the poor Central American nation.

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Honduras’ newly elected president named his transition team Tuesday, while about 200 students protested to demand a recount of the vote in the poor Central American nation.

Juan Orlando Hernandez, the ruling National Party’s candidate who campaigned on a law-and-order platform, hadn’t spoken publicly since just after the election Sunday, but he released a statement that included the names of those who will help him take over the government from President Porfirio Lobo.

Hernandez, 45, has all but won the hotly contested presidential race, electoral authorities said late Monday in describing his lead as “irreversible.”

Even before the announcement, his main competitor, Xiomara Castro, had challenged the official returns and claimed victory. Her husband, former President Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted in a 2009 coup, said they wouldn’t accept the results, but the campaign did not comment on the elections tribunal all but declaring Hernandez the winner.

Castro had led in opinion polls early in the campaign, but Hernandez closed the gap in the closing weeks as he promised to do “whatever I have to” in fighting crime in a country where much of the cities are controlled by gangs and outlying remote areas are held by drug runners.

Hernandez had 34 per cent of the votes to 29 per cent for Castro in an eight-candidate field, according to the most recent returns, with about a third of the votes still uncounted.

“It’s not the final result, but it’s an irreversible trend,” tribunal spokeswoman Lourdes Rosales said.

Electoral officials said they hoped to have final results by Thursday, but they didn’t explain why it was taking so long to finish the vote count. The tribunal reported results from 54 per cent of the votes by late Sunday, but barely advanced the count over the next two days.

About 200 university students blocked a major thoroughfare in the capital Tuesday to protest what they said were fraudulent election results and demand a recount. The students clashed with police officers who threw tear gas at the crowd.

Election observers for both the European Union and Organization of American States issued statements Tuesday describing the election and vote count as transparent.

Dario Euraque, a professor of history and international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, said Hernandez’s candidacy resonated with Hondurans because he pushed through legislation giving the military a role in patrolling some of the country’s crime-beset cities.

“Military presence is key when you practically have a failed state,” Euraque said. “It’s a mistake to ask they retire (to their barracks). People don’t understand it. They want security and will accept that discourse.”

Hernandez will likely face a divided Congress, whose 128 members were also elected Sunday. As a result, the political situation is unlikely to change dramatically in this failing state of 8.5 million people, which is home to the world’s highest homicide rate and widespread poverty. Those working for less than the minimum wage of $350 a month have grown from 28 per cent of the work force in 2008 to 43 per cent today.

Honduras also has been a focal point for U.S. drug enforcement efforts as the transit point for much of the South American cocaine heading to the U.S.

Hernandez, a lawyer and reserve army lieutenant who became president of congress in 2010, said Honduras needs an anti-drug strategy with the U.S. that is more effective.

“For them it’s a problem of public health, but for us it’s a problem of blood and death,” he said during the campaign “We expect that the stage that’s about to begin will be more effective than the one in the past.”

Just Posted

1,200 runners came out to Woody’s RV Marathon in Red Deer

Red Deer’s Matthew Hope ran in the Woody’s RV World Marathon for… Continue reading

Two men steal 16 year old’s car at gunpoint in Alberta

RCMP are looking for two men who allegedly produced a handgun and… Continue reading

Mother of five who died in hit and run in central Alberta a huge loss to family, police say

Rocky Mountain House RCMP continue to investigate hit and killed case on… Continue reading

‘Rope-a-dope’: Environmentalists say Alberta war room threat won’t distract them

EDMONTON — Environmental groups targeted by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney are shrugging… Continue reading

Speed, alcohol considered factors in deadly Calgary crash: police

CALGARY — The Calgary Police Service says two people are dead after… Continue reading

WATCH: First Red Deer Market of 2019

The event is held every Saturday in the Servus Arena parking lot

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

Unions increasingly at odds over replacing troubled Phoenix pay system

OTTAWA — The federal team charged with finding a replacement for the… Continue reading

Sisters of Ste-Anne hold unique garage sale before giving up Montreal convent

MONTREAL — The Montreal-area Sisters of Ste-Anne are hosting a unique garage… Continue reading

Canadian pilot Patrick Forseth killed in Honduras plane crash: sister

TRUJILLO, Honduras — A British Columbia woman says her pilot brother was… Continue reading

As states pass restrictive abortion laws, questions surface

ATLANTA — As multiple states pass laws banning many abortions, questions have… Continue reading

Pelosi being honoured with JFK Profile in Courage Award

BOSTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is being honoured with the 2019… Continue reading

India’s marathon national election reaches the finish line

KOLKATA, India — Voting in India’s mammoth national election ended Sunday with… Continue reading

UK leader promises a ‘bold offer’ on Brexit deal

LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May plans a “bold offer” to… Continue reading

Most Read