TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Two days later, Honduras still has no results from Sunday’s primaries to select the field of candidates to replace President Juan Orlando Hernández in November.
The head of the country’s National Electoral Council, Ana Paola Hall, said Tuesday the agency would favour accuracy over speed in releasing results. The processing of precinct vote tallies and inspection of the tally sheets has only just begun.
Sunday’s vote included presidential primaries for the Libre, Liberal and National parties, the main three of the 14 registered parties, and candidates for the 128 seats of the National Congress.
Hernández’s name keeps popping up in the New York trial of an alleged drug trafficker. And one of the candidates running to replace him has been convicted in the same court of laundering money for the same cartel.
The court actions show just how deep are the challenges facing Honduras, a country that U.S. prosecutors have repeatedly portrayed as a narco-state where drug traffickers buy protection from politicians.
Yani Rosenthal, fresh off serving a three-year sentence in the United States, is running for the nomination of the Liberal Party, his third time as a candidate. He was sentenced in 2017 and agreed to give up $3 million after pleading guilty to laundering money for the Cachiros cartel. His father was once Honduras’ vice-president and the family ran a banking empire.
Another big name in the field is Xiomara Castro, wife of former President Manuel Zelaya, who is making her second bid to be the Libre party’s presidential candidate. Zelaya’s name also came up last week in the trial of accused Honduran drug trafficker Geovanny Fuentes Ramírez.
The former leader of the Cachiros cartel, Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga, testified Thursday that in addition to bribing Hernández while he was president of the Congress, he also bribed Zelaya in 2006 when he assumed the presidency. Like Hernández, Zelaya died the allegation.
It is unclear, what effect the steady drumbeat of traffickers’ accusations against Hernández could have the National Party’s ability to retain power. Hernández relied on a controversial court ruling to overcome a constitutional ban on seeking reelection in 2017. Since then, he has faced broad public disapproval.
The Associated Press