Tegucigalpa.- The National Party of Honduras (PNH) accepted on Tuesday his defeat in the elections presidential elections on Sunday, said a senior figure in the ruling party, leaving the leftist candidate Xiomara Castro ready to become the first woman at the head of the Central American country.
In statements to the Honduran radio station Radio América, the executive secretary of the PNH, Kilvett Bertrand, said that the ruling force recognized the victory for Castro, 62, and that he will return power to the left in the country after the coup that overthrew her husband, Manuel Zelaya, in 2009.
Bertrand added that his candidate, Nasry Asfura, will soon hold a press conference to confirm that the PNH’s 12-year period in power has come to an end.
“We say to the base of the National Party, with our heads held high, we are going to be an opposition party,” Bertrand told Radio América.
Castro has accumulated an advantage of almost 20 percentage points over Asfura. With just over 52% of the votes counted, on Tuesday afternoon, the former first lady had 53.5% support compared to 34% for Asfura.
The formal concession will end a turbulent period under the conservative National Party, which has been haunted by scandals and accusations of corruption, especially during the two terms of outgoing President Juan Orlando Hernández.
The current president is deeply unpopular and has been implicated in a drug trafficking case in a federal court in the United States. He denies wrongdoing, but could face indictment when he leaves office.
Castro had already proclaimed a “resounding victory throughout the country” and his followers danced, cheered and waved flags in anticipation of Hernández’s departure.
The candidate faces great challenges in Honduras, where unemployment, crime, corruption and the threat of gangs have helped fuel a record migration to the United States.
With a degree in business administration, Castro achieved a solid performance in Sunday’s elections despite the findings of the European Union (EU) observation mission that the National Party had used state resources to boost its campaign.
The smooth transmission of early election results has contributed to transparency and trust, the EU mission said. However, he criticized the pre-election political violence and the “abuse of state resources”, such as an increase in the delivery of social assistance vouchers.
“The state media visibly favored the ruling party and its presidential candidate,” said the head of the mission, Željana Zovko.
During the past 24 hours there was also a long delay in updating the results, fueling suspense across the country.
The delay evoked memories of the 2017 general election, when the opposition candidate’s lead suddenly began to evaporate after the election referee restarted the count after a long suspension.
That disruption led to allegations of fraud and protests, but this time there has been no unrest, with voters reassured by Castro’s wide lead.
Castro’s team is already preparing for the government that begins in late January. Hugo Noé, head of the campaign’s policy platform, told Reuters that he will seek to negotiate a new debt deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) once they take office.