Honduran vote counting stalled by hotel-suite switch

Vote counting in Honduras' presidential election was further stalled on Saturday after election officials had to abandon their hotel suite to make room for a wedding party.

With about 90 percent of the votes counted in the Nov. 27 election, officials were still unable to declare a winner, and there was only a hint that a victor might emerge by Monday.

"Monday there could be important news on the outcome," Supreme Electoral Tribunal spokeswoman Carolina Cabrera said.

Liberal Party presidential candidate Manuel Zelaya had received just under 50 percent, while Porfirio Lobo Sosa, of the ruling National Party, got just over 46 percent, according to the latest tally.

The tribunal has blamed technical difficulties for the delay in announcing the final results. But the hotel-suite switch added a new twist to the ongoing election saga.

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal had been supervising the vote count in a third-floor suite of Tegucigalpa's Hotel del General. But late Friday the election officials were forced to pack up and move their operation to the hotel's second floor.

The tribunal had not anticipated it would still be working on Saturday, nearly a week after the vote, and the suite had been reserved for a wedding reception. After a nearly 10-hour delay, vote counting was slowly resuming late Saturday.

Of the 3.9 million eligible Honduran voters, some 2.5 million likely cast votes for president and vice president, as well as in congressional and mayoral races.

President Ricardo Maduro's National Party has said it will continue to fight the results and has alleged irregularities in the vote count. Maduro is barred from seeking another term.

Lobo Sosa has refused to concede, and the head of his party, David Matamoros, said some 120,000 votes in favor of Lobo Sosa were annulled. "We will revise all of the ballots so as to impede fraud," Matamoros said.

A group of 114 electoral observers from the Washington-based Organization of American States has said they will stay in Honduras until a clear election winner is determined, reported AP. P.T.

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