TEGUCIGALPA – The governing National Party called on its supporters on Monday to be prepared to take to the streets to “defend the victory” of President Juan Orlando Hernandez in the general elections held over the weekend in Honduras.
National Party leader Reinaldo Sanchez said opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla’s lead over Hernandez “has been reduced” since the first official results were released.
The national elections commission said in the early morning hours that Nasralla, of the Opposition Alliance against the Dictatorship, had a five-point lead over Hernandez.
Nasralla has 855,847 votes, or 45.17 percent of the total, with 57 percent of the ballots counted across the Central American country, the commission’s head, David Matamoros, said.
Hernandez, of the National Party, has 761,872 votes, or 40.21 percent of the total, the elections agency said.
Liberal Party candidate Luis Zelaya is in third place, with 260,994 votes, or 13.77 percent of the total.
“We’re not going to win by a large margin, so that tells us ahead of time that we have to motivated, to start preparing our people, because the likelihood is that we are going to have to go into the streets to defend the victory,” Sanchez said in a recording obtained by media outlets.
“We’re going to give them power? For what, if the people prefer us in the end? We have no choice but to defend it,” Sanchez said.
Journalists said the audio recording was released after the national elections commission issued its first bulletin reporting that Nasralla was leading the president.
Hernandez, who won the 2013 presidential election, and Nasralla both claimed victory on Sunday night.
The opposition candidate on Monday called on the government to “respect” the election results.
Sanchez called on National Party leaders to monitor the situation and tell their supporters to “wait until the final counting of the final ballot.”
Hernandez sought re-election on Sunday amid opposition claims that the move was illegal.
The constitution does not allow presidential re-election, but a Supreme Court ruling in May 2015 opened the way for Hernandez to seek another term.
Honduran and foreign election observers, including teams from the European Parliament, European Union and Organization of American States (OAS), did not report any irregularities during the general elections.