Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — The challenger in Honduras' still unresolved presidential election has filed a challenge to the Nov. 26 contest that seeks to annul the results and requests a recount.
Salvador Nasralla, candidate of the opposition alliance, and his campaign team handed over the paperwork with just minutes to spare before a midnight deadline Friday.
The Honduran electoral court's original tally put President Juan Orlando Hernandez ahead by more than 52,000 votes or 1.6 percent. But in an electoral process plagued by problems that dragged on for days, both candidates declared themselves winner.
International observers had urged the opposition to challenge the election through existing channels. The opposition alliance had called for a total recount in recent days, but said it would not accept any role for the electoral court, which it said was biased and lacked credibility for its ties to the government.
"We're sure it's not going to stick," Nasralla said of the challenge. "It is going serve for us as a reference point to be able to travel abroad and say that we exhausted the local process."
Nearly two weeks after the election, the way out of the standoff remains unclear. The electoral court is in the midst of a recount of the votes in nearly 5,000 ballot boxes that it says could take several more days. The boxes, more than a third of the total, held votes that were not transmitted to election officials on the night of the election. The court has said that they otherwise present no inconsistencies.
The electoral court has 30 days from the election to declare a winner, potentially placing an announcement square in the holiday season.
A local bar association also filed a challenge to annul the election on the grounds that Honduras' constitution does not allow re-election. The country's supreme court had earlier cleared the way for Hernandez to run.
After several days under a curfew called in the wake of some looting and property destruction, the government allowed people to move about freely in most of the country, including the capital Friday. More demonstrations were expected through the weekend.