Honduran President Juan Hernandez and his main challenger Salvador Nasralla, on Monday, both claimed victory in presidential polls with official results still to be announced.
Hernandez, a 49-year-old conservative, declared himself the winner of Sunday’s election after exit polls gave him almost 44 per cent of the vote.
“I am content, happy, we won this election,’’ Hernandez told members of his National Party.
Centre-left television presenter Nasralla, 64, declared to his supporters too that he was the new president of Honduras.
According to the company Ingenieria Gerencial, polls had put Nasralla in second place with 34.7 per cent of the vote and right-wing academic Luis Zelaya in third with 17.7 per cent,.
Meanwhile, the presidents of Guatemala and Ecuador have already congratulated Hernandez on his re-election.
With official results still to be announced, the government called on Hondurans to stay calm.
“Riot police were deployed in front of the electoral office, the news agency reported.
Report says Hernandez’s victory will be unprecedented in Honduras as the constitution bans re-election.
However, Hernandez based his candidacy on a 2015 Supreme Court ruling in favour of former president Rafael Callejas, who argued that the ban violated his human rights.
Callejas did not run after having been jailed in the US over a FIFA corruption scandal.
The elections pitted Hernandez against eight other candidates in a single-round vote.
He had been expected to defeat Nasralla, who had the backing of Libre and the centrist Innovation and Unity Party which joined forces in a rare alliance, and Zelaya, who represented the conservative Liberal Party.
About 6.4 million voters were also eligible to elect 128 members of Congress and the mayors of 298 municipalities.
The opposition argued that the Supreme Court could not override the constitution, Hernandez insisted that he needed a second term to consolidate his achievements, such as improving security.
He sent soldiers to crack down on criminal gangs, extradited drug lords to the US and slightly reduced Honduras’ homicide rate, still one of the highest in the world.
Hernandez also slashed the fiscal deficit, but critics say he has done little to dent a poverty rate of more than 60 per cent.
His bid to seek a second term fuelled concern over his allegedly authoritarian tendencies and revived the memory of 20th-century military rulers. (NAN)