Honduras opposition candidate alleges fraud in presidential vote

Opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla is photographed during his interview with AFP in Tegucigalpa on November 28, 2017

Honduran opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla on Tuesday accused incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez of trying to steal the Central American country's election by faking poll results.

In an interview with AFP, leftist TV host-turned-politician Nasralla said Hernandez was colluding with the army and the electoral authorities to forge new results sheets and give himself the edge in Sunday's bitterly contested presidential election.

"He's fabricating (the results)," said Nasralla.

"He controls the media. He's going to have the results sheets he wants validated and change the will of the people."

The general election in this poor, gang-plagued Central American country has turned into a drawn-out showdown between Nasralla, 64, and Hernandez, 49, who is going for four more years in office despite a constitutional limit of just one term.

Both candidates have declared victory, but the results are far from clear.

In the early hours of Monday, Nasralla led by five percentage points with 57 percent of ballots counted.

Then the Supreme Electoral Tribunal interrupted its live broadcast of the results and announced the rest of the ballots would be brought to the capital, Tegucigalpa, to be counted.

On Tuesday, the election authority posted new results on its website: 44.4 percent for Nasralla to 40.5 percent for Hernandez -- about one percentage point narrower than the opposition candidate's previous lead -- with just over 61 percent of the ballots counted.

Nasralla accused the conservative president of plotting to rig the vote, saying his "survival instinct" was hijacking democracy.

"He knows if he's not the president anymore he'll be extradited" to face corruption charges, he told AFP.

"He's trying to sow chaos so he can declare a state of emergency and take control with the help of his people and the army."

Hernandez's conservative National Party -- which controls the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government -- contends that a 2015 Supreme Court ruling allows his re-election.

Nasralla and his coalition, the Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship, have denounced the incumbent's bid, saying the court does not have the power to overrule the 1982 constitution.