Surveys: Honduran Conservative is Favorite in Sunday's Presidential Election

Opinion polls in Honduras show conservative candidate Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo has a clear lead ahead of Sunday's controversial presidential election.

Honduran presidential candidate for the National Party, Porfirio Lobo, gestures during a press conference in Tegucigalpa, 27 Nov 2009
Honduran presidential candidate for the National Party, Porfirio Lobo, gestures during a press conference in Tegucigalpa, 27 Nov 2009

Opinion polls in Honduras indicate conservative candidate Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo is the clear front-runner in Sunday's controversial presidential election.

Polls give Mr. Lobo of the opposition National Party a 16-point lead over Elvin Santos of the ruling Liberal Party, which ousted its own leader, Manuel Zelaya, as Honduran president in June.

Both Mr. Lobo and Mr. Santos support Mr. Zelaya's removal from power, a move that brought international isolation to the poor Central American nation.

Both candidates also signed a pledge to respect the outcome of the vote and honor the constitutional ban on running for re-election.  Mr. Zelaya was removed from office after pushing for a referendum to reconsider the ban.

The date for Sunday's election was set before the June coup.  Mr. Zelaya's term had been due to expire in January, and the election was meant to choose his successor.

Mr. Zelaya and his supporters have been calling for a boycott of Sunday's election.  

He has been holed up in the Brazilian embassy in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, since September, when he made a surprise return to the country after being sent into exile.

The decision of the interim government that backed the coup to proceed with the election has divided Latin America.

Brazil and Argentina have said they will not recognize the election because doing so would legitimize the coup.  Costa Rica and Peru have suggested they are ready to recognize the vote.

Neither Mr. Zelaya nor Roberto Micheletti, the interim president, is running in the election.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Friday the holding of a free, fair and transparent election is necessary but not sufficient for Honduras to re-establish democratic and constitutional order. 

Kelly said Washington will continue to support implementation of a U.S.-brokered power-sharing deal that calls for Honduran lawmakers to vote on whether to reinstate Mr. Zelaya.  The vote is scheduled for December 2, three days after the election.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.
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