Opposition leader wins Honduras presidency

 

Honduras's main opposition leader has claimed victory in the country’s presidential elections.

He told supporters at the National Party headquarters in the capital, Tegucigalpa, that early returns and party figures showed victory was assured. "We've done it. Hondurans have won," Mr Maduro said to cheers and flag-waving by supporters.

His main rival, the ruling Liberal Party's Mr Rafael Pineda, accepted defeat gracefully.

With 740,000 votes counted, the electoral tribunal said Mr Maduro had 52.7 per cent support against Mr Pineda's 43.8. About 3.4 million Hondurans were eligible to vote.

But the murder of a congressional candidate from Mr Maduro's party on Saturday cast a shadow over his triumph.

The new president has vowed "zero tolerance" against crime in the Central American nation where 70 per cent of the population live in poverty and armed street gangs run amok. Mr Maduro's son was killed in a botched kidnap attempt in 1997.

"We are going to fight to end crime and we're going to manage it," said Mr Maduro, promising sweeping reforms in government aimed at spurring economic growth.