Honduran liberal opposition wins presidential elections

Candidate Manuel Zelaya, a logging magnate, argued against the death penalty to tackle gang violence in the Central American nation

Honduras' opposition Liberal Party leader, Manuel Zelaya, has won presidential elections on Sunday with 50.6 percent of the vote, according to exit polls published by the local media. As per the unpredicted results, the Honduran people appeared to have rejected the hard-line approach to tackling gang violence proposed by the ruling party candidate Porfirio Lobo, who recommended to reinstate death penalty.Manuel Zelaya

Zelaya's supporters have begun to celebrate the victory at the campaign headquarters after hearing the result of the exit poll of 120,000 voters. Porfirio Lobo, candidate of the governing National Party, got 44.3 percent of the vote, as the poll showed.

"People have believed in this servant of the people; the people have shown that reason has beaten force," Zelaya, 53, told local television. Clamping down on tattooed youth gang members known as "maras," who are behind a wave of beheadings, eye gougings, rapes and other violence, was the key election issue in this poor Central American nation.

However, during the campaign little has been said about strategic issues, as the fight against poverty, the creation of jobs and the controversial free trade agreement signed with the United States.

About 3.9 million Honduran voters cast their ballots at 5,312 polling stations throughout the country from 6 a.m. local time (1200 GMT) to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The election was held without any major incidents, according to both local and international observers, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) said on Sunday.

It was the seventh general election in Honduras since the country ended a two-decade-long military rule in 1980.

Photo: Manuel Zelaya will replace incumbent President Ricardo Maduro on Jan. 27, 2006, to lead the country with a population of 7 million.

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Author`s name Olga Savka