TEGUCIGALPA – Honduras’ conservative ruling party candidate late Tuesday conceded defeat in the presidential election, paving the way for leftist rival Xiomara Castro to become the Central American country’s first female leader. are having difficulty.
Calling Castro “president-elect”, National Party candidate Nasry Asfura said he visited the opponent at her home to congratulate him on winning Sunday’s vote, in a rally. Thailand will end his group’s 12 years in power.
“Now I want to say publicly, I congratulate her on her win,” Asfura said in a video that was broadcast on local television alongside photos of the two rivals hugging and smiling.
Castro had a preliminary lead of nearly 20 percentage points over Asfura, but the result was delayed by a slow count of votes at the electoral college.
With more than 52% of the votes counted on Tuesday night, Castro had 53.4% in favor and Asfura 34.1%.
Minutes after Asfura made concessions, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also congratulated Castro and said Washington looked forward to working with her.
“We congratulate Hondurans for the high turnout, peaceful participation and active participation of civil society that marked this election, signaling a lasting commitment,” Blinken said. to the democratic process,” Blinken said.
Although the electoral commission has not released the total number of primary votes for the parliamentary races, early results suggest a possible majority for Castro’s Libre party and its main allies.
The head of the National Party David Chavez earlier said that his party would take on the role of “constructive opposition” and was ready to work with the incoming government.
The concession ends a tumultuous period under the National Party, which has been plagued by scandals and allegations of corruption, especially during the two terms of outgoing President Juan Orlando Hernandez.
Hernandez was extremely famous and was implicated in a drug trafficking case in the US federal court. He denies wrongdoing, but could face an indictment when he leaves office.
Castro’s victory will see the left return to power after a two-year hiatus after her husband, former President Manuel Zelaya, was ousted in a coup in 2009.
Castro faces major challenges in Honduras, where unemployment, crime, corruption and the threat of transnational drug cartels have helped drive record numbers of emigration to the United States.
She performed strongly in Sunday’s election despite findings by the European Union’s vote-watching mission that the National Party had used state backing to push the campaign forward. his candidacy.
The EU delegation said that the smooth transmission of early election results supported transparency and confidence. But it criticized pre-election political violence and “abuse of state resources”, such as an increase in the distribution of welfare ballots.
“The state media clearly supports the ruling party and its presidential candidate,” said the head of the mission, Željana Zovko.
Castro’s team prepared for the government. Hugo Noe, the campaign’s head of policy platform, told Reuters that Castro will seek to negotiate a new debt deal with the International Monetary Fund when she takes office in January.
(Reporting by David Alire Garcia and Gustavo Palencia; Additional reporting by Eric Beech in Washington Editing by Drazen Jorgic, Alistair Bell and Sandra Maler)