President Juan Orlando Hernandez held a lead of more than 52,000 votes in Honduras' hotly disputed presidential race as the long-delayed count wrapped up, eight days after the election.
Hernandez led by a margin of 43 per cent of the votes over opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla's 41.4 per cent, according to the latest results published on the electoral tribunal's website. His edge expanded in the latest count from about 46,000 votes.
Tribunal president David Matamoros said 100 per cent of the ballots had been tabulated although the website still showed 0.04 percent left to count but the court was not declaring a winner yet.
"We will do that later," Matamoros said, adding that parties will have 10 days to challenge the results for the November 26 election.
The last ballot boxes that presented "inconsistencies" were examined without the presence of Nasralla and his Opposition Against Dictatorship alliance, which chose not to send representatives as vote tallying continued. Nasralla has called for a far broader recount as well as a redo of the entire election.
Both Hernandez and Nasralla have claimed victory. Nasralla had led in initial returns before a lengthy delay interrupted reports from electoral officials, feeding opposition complaints of irregularities. Officials blamed the pause on technical problems and denied any manipulation.
Nasralla told a big rally in the capital, Tegucigalpa, on Sunday that the magistrates of the electoral tribunal "are employees of President Hernandez," who ran for re-election despite a constitutional ban on doing so.
"The tribunal is not an independent organism and as such is neither credible nor trustworthy for the people," said Nasralla, a well-known TV personality. On Monday, he alleged that the special count was a "fraud" with "false, fixed, arranged votes."
Hernandez took to social media to urge calm and national unity.
"I extend my hand to all contenders and sectors of the country to build a new Honduras," he tweeted. "The results of this election leave us with a great hope. ... My commitment to working for peace and tranquility in Honduras is more alive than ever."
The US Embassy said in a statement that it was "pleased Honduran election authorities completed the special scrutiny process in a way that maximizes citizen participation and transparency."
It also said it supports international election observers working "to increase the transparency of the process" and called on politicians "to ensure a result that represents the will of the Honduran people."
Marisa Matias of the European Union observer mission urged electoral officials to be flexible and respect a reasonable time frame for parties to present any petitions or challenges. She added that the petitions the mission had seen so far "are reasonable.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)