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Counting over in close and controversial poll for presidency of Honduras

President Juan Orlando Hernandez held on to a lead of more than 52,000 votes in Honduras' hotly-disputed presidential race as the long-delayed count wrapped up.

Mr Hernandez led by a margin of 43% of votes over opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla's 41.4%, according to the latest results published on the electoral tribunal's website.

His edge expanded in the latest count from about 46,000 votes.

Tribunal president David Matamoros said 100% of the ballots had been tabulated but the court was not declaring a winner yet.

"We will do that later," Mr Matamoros said, adding that parties will have 10 days to challenge the results.

The last ballot boxes that presented "inconsistencies" were examined without the presence of Mr Nasralla and his Opposition Against Dictatorship alliance, which chose not to send representatives as the vote tallying process continued and have called for a far broader recount and a redo of the entire vote.

Mr Nasralla told a big rally in the capital, Tegucigalpa, that the magistrates of the electoral tribunal "are employees of President (Juan Orlando) Hernandez", who ran for re-election despite a constitutional ban on doing so.

"The tribunal is not an independent organism and as such is neither credible nor trustworthy for the people," said Mr Nasralla, a well-known TV personality.

Mr Hernandez's government is enforcing a 10-day curfew of 6pm to 6am to quell demonstrations, although it was dropped on Saturday for the country's two main tourist areas, the Bay Islands and the Mayan ruins of Copan.

Late Sunday the capital had another night of pot-banging protests over delays in the vote count, and the sound of bottle-rockets and chants echoed across the city.

Clashes between protesters and troops have killed at least one person and perhaps as many as a half dozen.

Police spokesman Jair Meza said nearly 800 people were detained during two nights of curfew.

Both Mr Hernandez and Mr Nasralla have claimed victory.

Mr Nasralla had led in initial returns before a lengthy delay interrupted reports from electoral officials, feeding opposition complaints of irregularities.

Officials blamed the pause on technical problems and denied any manipulation.

Mr Nasralla said over the weekend that he had asked for the presidential vote to be repeated.

Such a new election "would be under the supervision of an international electoral tribunal, not the local one, because there aren't sufficient conditions to guarantee" the vote would be fair, Mr Nasralla said.

Asked what response he got from the government, Mr Nasralla said, "They haven't responded and I don't think they will."

Honduras' national police force said it was investigating after a 19-year-old woman was shot to death at a pro-Nasralla protest Friday by gunmen who witnesses said were officers.

Witnesses and opposition activists claim at least five other people have been killed at protests nationwide.

The protests were reminiscent of those following the 2009 coup that ousted former President Manuel Zelaya, whose Libre party is the key partner in the coalition led by Mr Nasralla that formed in a bid to unseat Mr Hernandez.

Officials said Mr Zelaya was ousted for considering re-election, which is against Honduras' constitution.

But the country's top court threw out that prohibition so Mr Hernandez could seek a second term.



From Belfast Telegraph