A vendor arranges newspapers covering the preliminary tally of presidential candidates on the front page, in Tegucigalpa November 25, 2013
Image Reuters

In the first elections since a coup by the Honduran military deposed Manuel Zelaya, the leftist president of the Central American country, in 2009, candidate Juan Orlando Hernández of the conservative National Party was leading in the polls by a comfortable margin on Sunday night. The 45-year-old head of Honduran Congress, who says he plans to roll out the military to impose order in the country's notoriously crime-ridden cities as well as relieve widespread poverty -- two-thirds of Hondurans live in poverty -- had over 35 percent of the votes on Sunday, to the 28.47 percent attributed to leftist candidate Xiomara Castro, the wife of Zelaya.

Castro had for months led the race, portraying herself as the candidate for change. Before the electoral council made the results known on Sunday night, Castro said her campaign's own numbers gave her the victory by three points. "We've fulfilled the dream of those who gave their lives for the country, and of the resistance which has kept going for the last four years," she said in reference to the time which had transpired since her husband was forced out of power. Early on Monday, her husband urged her supporters to stay at the polls to continue monitoring the count, saying, "We don't accept the results. There are more than 1 million votes that have yet to be counted." Another candidate, fourth-place Salvador Nasrallah of the Anticorruption Party, also rejected the electoral council's findings, saying, "Our data do not match the official data that the system is transmitting."

David Matamoros, president of the electoral council, told members of the press, "We're not commenting on trends nor are we giving a winner, although this information is real." He added that this year's elections, which transpired peacefully and with a high voter turnout in spite of fears of fraud and violence, marked a "civic, historic, and peaceful fiesta" for the country. U.S. Ambassador Lisa Kubiske and Ulrike Lunacek, head of the EU observer mission, said reports from the polls indicated the vote and subsequent count were regular.

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