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Rising Tension In Honduras As Presidential Vote Count Drags On

Supporters of Honduran presidential candidate for the Opposition Alliance against the Dictatorship party Salvador Nasralla protest in Tegucigalpa, on Wednesday.

A showdown in Honduras appears imminent between incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez and his TV star rival Salvador Nasralla, who are neck-and-neck in an ongoing vote count from Sunday's presidential election.

Both claimed victory in the weekend poll and with 83 percent of the votes counted, they were separated by just one-tenth of one percent — Hernandez had 42.11 percent to Nasralla's 42.21 percent.

Initially, Nasralla enjoyed a five percentage point lead over Hernandez, but as that lead quickly evaporated, international concern over a disputed outcome grew.

Hours after signing a pledge with the Organization of American States (OAS) on Wednesday to respect the results of the poll, Nasralla reneged, saying the documents he had signed had "no validity."

On Tuesday, Nasralla urged his supporters to turn out in the streets, declaring: "We've already won." His prompting sent thousands out into the capital, Tegucigalpa, where they shouted slogans that accused the authorities of fraud.

As the BBC reports:

"The opposition, and international observers, have been suspicious of the slow pace of counting in a country of fewer than 10 million people.

But the authorities said votes from remote rural areas took relatively long to arrive at the counting [center]."

Honduras is one of Washington's closest military allies in the Americans and the State Department on Wednesday urged a quick conclusion to the vote count.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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