TEGUCIGALPA - Porfirio Lobo has won the presidential election in Honduras, with about 56 percent of ballots cast. Election officials say voter turnout was high, in spite of a call by ousted President Manuel Zelaya to boycott the poll.
Wealthy rancher Porfirio Lobo declared victory after election results showed a broad lead for the candidate from the opposition National Party. The outcome was a vindication for Lobo, who narrowly lost to ousted President Manuel Zelaya in the 2005 vote.
Speaking at a rally late Sunday, Lobo told supporters he will work to improve security, create new jobs and restore international ties.
Lobo says he hopes to bring about profound changes that will enable Honduras to return to the place it was four years ago, before Mr. Zelaya took office.
Election officials said about 62 percent of voters took part in the vote, which eclipsed turnout figures from the 2005 election. The official numbers contradicted earlier claims from Mr. Zelaya, who said his supporters estimated that less than half of registered voters took part.
The ousted leader called on voters to boycott the election, saying the de facto government is illegitimate. Since October, Mr. Zelaya has been living inside the Brazilian embassy as Honduran officials seek to arrest him on charges of abuse of power and treason.
The head of the Honduran election council, Enrique Ortez, says the results showed that the election was a resounding success.
Ortez says voters have made their decision in free and transparent elections. And, he says foreign governments have a moral obligation to recognize the vote outcome.
The big challenge for Mr. Lobo may be restoring foreign ties which have suffered since Mr. Zelaya was removed from office in June. Many foreign governments accuse the de facto government in Honduras of launching a coup to remove Mr. Zelaya from office.
Earlier, Brazil and Argentina said they would not recognize the election results. Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica said they would accept them, in an effort to resolve the political crisis.
U.S. officials have indicated the election is a key step forward for Honduras, but they have not confirmed whether they will accept the outcome.
Earlier, U.S. human rights activists rallied in front of the American embassy in the capital, to pressure the White House to reject the poll. Members of the Washington-based group Quijote Center say the poll was not free and fair because opposition leaders had suffered numerous raids and arrests in recent weeks.
Patricia Adams says the Micheletti government’s actions thwarted free-and-fair elections.
“Without the ability to campaign freely, without the ability to not have to fear for their lives by taking to the streets in a political way, how can anyone claim that those are conditions for a democratic process such as elections?” Adams asked.
International human rights groups condemned Honduran police for breaking up a march in the industrial city of San Pedro Sula. Activists say police fired tear gas and arrested more than 40 opposition supporters.
Source: VOA News