Opposition candidate Xiomara Castro holds big lead in Honduras election

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Nov. 29 (UPI) — Center-left opposition candidate Xiomara Castro on Monday appeared poised to win the presidential election in Honduras with more than 53% of the vote, election officials announced.

The National Electoral Council said that with 51% of the vote counted as of mid-day Monday, Castro had tallied nearly 962,000 votes to 607,000 for Nasry Asfura of the ruling National Party, the Spanish news agency EFE reported.

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Those totals gave Castro a 20-point lead and put her on a clear track to become the country’s first female president 12 years after her husband, Manuel Zelaya, was forced from power in a military-backed coup.

The final totals will likely be closer as votes come in from the rural heartlands of the National Party, The Guardian reported. The winner is scheduled to start a four-year term in January 2022.

With an apparent record-breaking landslide victory at hand, social media posts showed backers of Castro’s Libre Party celebrating in the capital Tegucigalpa late Sunday, waving their red-and-black flags, as Castro, 62, declared herself the winner.

“We turned 12 years of tears and pain into joy,” Castro wrote in a Twitter post. “The sacrifice of our martyrs was not in vain. We will initiate an era of prosperity of solidarity through dialogue with all sectors, without discrimination and without sectarianism.”

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The apparent results are a surprise to many analysts who foresaw another big win for the conservative National Party despite allegations of corruption and drug trafficking allegations against President Juan Orlando Hernandez and other party members.

Hernandez has forcefully denied the accusations, but the scandal appears to have motivated opponents to flock to the polls.

The Biden administration in July designated former Honduran President Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo Sosa of the National Party and his wife, former first lady Rosa Elena Bonilla Avila, for their involvement in “significant corruption” while in office, barring them from entry to the United States.