Written by by CNN Staff Correspondent
Honduras’ ruling party candidate was surprised to learn he had lost his country’s presidential race to an independent candidate Wednesday — but he didn’t shed any tears.
Conservative National Party candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez pulled the rug out from under himself after claiming victory in Monday’s presidential election.
The result was called into question by Mr. Hernandez’ rival in the race, Salvador Nasralla, who requested a review of the vote count that would have given him victory. The election monitor, according to reports, declared Mr. Nasralla the winner of the race.
“It has come to my attention that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal have made a decision that these challenges that were made should take place before two specific chambers,” Mr. Hernandez said Wednesday.
“The first is the constitutional chamber, the second is the appellate chamber of the tribunal. No sooner had the decision been made did they read in the media that the outcome had changed. And apparently because of the potential political fallout — the president of the republic, Juan Orlando Hernandez, and the National Party — the Supreme Electoral Tribunal has called for a recount of those votes and opened an investigation.”
The electoral tribunal said Wednesday that Mr. Nasralla’s challenge had been rejected by all nine of its justices, according to witnesses at the proceedings.
CNN could not immediately confirm the outcome of the tribunal’s deliberations and calls for a CNN translation of the proceedings were not answered.
Mr. Hernandez said on Wednesday he was astonished that the electoral tribunal “would allow a stolen election to take place.
“As the person who voted, I can say that we are going to peacefully wait for the results, which are not yet final,” he said.
News of the counting error sent shares of Zetec, the company that conducted the recount, down 2.63%.
Mr. Hernandez, who is also vice president, was projected to win with 47.8% of the vote.
But Mr. Nasralla of the LIBRE Party, a third-time presidential candidate, claimed a surge in voter support and suggested that Zetec was doing little to keep Mr. Hernandez in check during the tally process.
Mr. Nasralla said the electoral tribunal hadn’t done a proper audit of the results, that they hadn’t considered all the votes and that they weren’t properly verifying pre-marked ballots as they had vowed to do.
Mr. Nasralla claims Zetec had spent the majority of its time conducting the recount and not actual counting.
“In doing a recount in every constituency, we’re looking for a few thousand that will help turn the tables in our favor,” he said in an interview with CNN over the weekend.
“They’re not focusing on the actual votes that were given and voted.”
It’s not the first time Mr. Hernandez has proved prescient.
He appeared confident a day before the elections when he addressed a recent street protest, saying that only “white revolution” would remove him from office.
“The ‘white revolution’ is our nightmare,” he said. “It’s a very unpleasant image because they want to bring back exactly what they had during the dictatorship of (Eduardo) Lobo and (Roberto) Micheletti.”
The protests were called by the municipal delegation from UNASUR — a South American organization — after a shooting incident in Tegucigalpa, the capital, killed one protester and injured two others.
Earlier this month, the Organization of American States, known as the OAS, called for a new national election — a call backed by the US, the European Union and three other nations that backed Hernandez, according to Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela.
The call came after more than a year of anti-government protests sparked by electoral fraud allegations and on-going uncertainty over the fate of President Juan Orlando Hernandez.
Mr. Hernandez, who was elected in 2014, earlier this year said the government would end a budget dispute that has paralyzed the nation’s court system.