Hondura, Dec 18: Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez was declared the winner of a heavily disputed presidential election held three weeks ago, despite mounting protests and opposition claims of fraud.
Electoral authorities made the announcement the day that Hernandez`s leftist opponent, Salvador Nasralla, left for the United States to highlight what he said was ballot tampering in the November 26 poll.
The declaration could deepen a spiral of violence that has occurred since the election, as anti-Hernandez protesters and police have squared off repeatedly.
Police have counted three deaths in the unrest. But the opposition says 20 people have died, and Amnesty International has registered 14 deaths.
The election was deeply contentious.
Hernandez, 49, stood for re-election against Nasralla, a 64-year-old former TV presenter, despite a constitutional ban on presidents having more than one term.
His conservative National Party said that rule was scrapped by a 2015 Supreme Court ruling.
But the opposition insists ballots were tampered with after the election, and says unusual breaks in the count that dragged out the tally over more than a week was suspicious.
International observers also said they noted “irregularities.”The Supreme Electoral Tribunal had previously declined to name a victor, despite saying that its count of the ballots showed a slight margin in favor of Hernandez: 43 percent to 41 percent for Nasralla.
But it had to do so by a December 26 deadline, or risk the entire election being invalidated.