San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Honduran Veep Says Ruling Party Will Have to Accept Defeat

TEGUCIGALPA (EFE) – Honduran Vice-President Alberto Diaz said the ruling National Party has to accept its defeat at the hands of the opposition Liberal Party in last week’s presidential election.


“I think we on the losing side will have to accept defeat and the winners will celebrate,” Diaz said.


Diaz was the first official in President Ricardo Maduro’s administration to admit that the opposition won the Nov. 27 presidential lection.


“I have not heard any declaration (from the National Party) accepting the results, but it will have to come,” Diaz said.


The vice president said he regretted the decision by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) to delay the release of preliminary results but said the election “process was transparent.”


On Saturday, the TSE suspended the vote count to focus on a review of ballots with irregularities. TSE officials said the vote count would resume Monday.


LIBERAL Party candidate Manuel Zelaya apparently won the election, defeating his main rival, National Party candidate Porfirio Lobo.


Zelaya has 49.9% of the vote to Lobo’s 46.16%, with 10% of the ballots still to be counted, according to TSE figures. Candidates from minor parties split the balance of the votes.


Of the five parties taking part in last Sunday’s election, which marked 25 years of democracy in Honduras, only the ruling National Party and the main opposition Liberals were serious contenders for power.


Both parties are conservative and have enjoyed a duopoly on political power here – aside from periods of military rule – or more than a century.


AFTER SOME 18 years of government by successive juntas, all bruised by corruption scandals and infighting, the military turned power over to civilians in 1982.


The Liberal Party’s Roberto Suazo, who had won the 1981 election, took office. In 1986, another Liberal, Jose Azcona, succeeded him.


Rafael Callejas of the National Party won the 1989 elections, and in November 1993 Liberal Party leader Carlos Roberto Reina emerged victorious. Suazo, Azcona, Callejas and Reina governed with the specter of a coup hovering over them, as the military chafed under the civilian control mandated by the 1980 Constitution.


AZCONA and Reina even acknowledged that on several occasions their governments were threatened by the military, which nevertheless gradually underwent a number of structural changes, including the elimination of the post of commander- in-chief during Reina’s administration.


In January 1998, Carlos Flores, also of the Liberal Party, took office, and for the first time appointed a civilian defense minister. In addition, the President was ratified as commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

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