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Honduras to Recount Nearly a Fourth of Ballot Boxes

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez speaks to supporters, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Dec. 7, 2017. Eight Latin American governments Wednesday applauded Honduras' willingness to recount disputed votes in the presidential elections, but questions remain about how thorough that recount will be.

Honduras’ election tribunal will recount 4,753 ballot boxes that have cast a shadow on the results of the country’s presidential election, the tribunal chief said Thursday, bowing to a demand by the Organization of American States (OAS).

Nearly two weeks since Honduras’ Nov. 26 presidential election, the result remains unknown, with allegations of electoral fraud sparking protests and a chorus of international concern over events in the poor Central American nation.

Official results showed Honduras’ conservative President Juan Orlando Hernandez with a narrow 1.6 percentage point lead over center-left opposition leader Salvador Nasralla. However, no victor has yet been declared by the election tribunal.

The tribunal declared Nasralla the leader in an announcement on the morning after the vote, with just more than half of the ballot boxes counted. However, it gave no further updates for about 36 hours. Once results then started flowing again, Nasralla’s lead quickly started narrowing.

On Thursday, after meeting with the United States’ top diplomat in Honduras and the OAS country representative, tribunal chief David Matamoros said there would be a recount of ballot boxes that arrived after the 36-hour pause, and which the opposition has claimed are tainted.

“This is a process we want to undertake in front of the eyes of the world, and we want to invite civil society,” Matamoros said at a press conference in the capital, Tegucigalpa.

The OAS, which on Wednesday said it may call for new Honduran elections if “irregularities” undermine the credibility of results, had previously called for a recount of those 4,753 ballot boxes.

It remains to be seen if the opposition will accept the tribunal’s offer. Nasralla on Wednesday evening called for an international arbiter to oversee a recount of the entire 18,000-plus ballot boxes, saying he no longer officially recognized the Honduran tribunal because of its role in the process.

Separately, Honduras’ security ministry said Thursday it was removing the curfew from three more departments, meaning only six of the country’s 18 departments are still under curfew.