Xiomara Castro draws closer to Honduran presidency as opponent concedes

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Fears that a hotly contested new presidential election could plunge Honduras back into chaos and violence eased ...


TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Fears that a hotly contested new presidential election could plunge Honduras back into chaos and violence eased on Tuesday evening when the ruling party admitted defeat to the opposition candidate.

With this, it emerged that Honduras could not only benefit from a peaceful transition, but would also have its first female president, leftist Xiomara Castro.

Nasry Asfura, the presidential candidate for the ruling National Party, said in a statement that he personally congratulated Ms Castro, when meeting with her and her family.

“Now I want to say it publicly: that I congratulate her on her victory,” said Mr. Asfura, the conservative mayor of Tegucigalpa. “And as president-elect, I hope God enlightens and guides her so that her administration does its best for the good of all of us Hondurans to achieve development and the desire for democracy.”

Ms. Castro obtained 53 percent of the vote and Mr. Asfura 34 percent, with 52 percent of the ballots counted, according to the National Electoral Council. The board has 30 days from the election to declare a winner.

Even before the concession, Castro’s supporters were partying.

Thousands of Hondurans took to the streets the day after Sunday’s vote to applaud what they thought was Ms Castro’s insurmountable advance, shooting fireworks and chanting “JOH, JOH, and away you go”, a reference to the deeply unpopular outgoing president Juan. Orlando Hernandez.

The result appeared to be a stunning repudiation of the 12-year-old National Party regime, which was shaped by widespread corruption, the dismantling of democratic institutions and accusations of links to drug cartels.

Many expressed hope that Ms Castro, 62, would be able to cure the chronic diseases that have plagued the country in poverty and despair for decades – widespread corruption, violence, organized crime and mass migration.

Ms. Castro represents in some ways a break with traditional Honduran politics. His dominant leadership, in what was a largely peaceful election, also appeared to offer democratic respite from a wave of authoritarianism sweeping through Central America.

Yet Ms Castro is also deeply linked to the Honduran political establishment. Her husband is Manuel Zelaya, a former leftist president deposed in a coup in 2009.

And Ms Castro’s ability to deliver on her election promises risks being seriously compromised by opposition from more conservative sections of Congress and her own political coalition.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Xiomara Castro draws closer to Honduran presidency as opponent concedes
Xiomara Castro draws closer to Honduran presidency as opponent concedes
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