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Thousands march in Honduras to demand vote recount

Sunday - 12/1/2013, 6:11pm  ET

Presidential candidate Xiomara Castro rides on the roof of a car with a coffin containing the body of a supporter that was killed a day earlier by alleged criminals during a protest march in the capital city of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. Castro called for her supporters to pour out in the streets to demand a vote-by-vote recount of last Sunday's election a move that could mean further political instability for this poor Central American country. (AP Photo/Fernando Antonio)

Associated Press

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) -- Thousands of people marched peacefully Sunday in Honduras' capital to support opposition presidential candidate Xiomara Castro in her claim that last weekend's election was fraudulent.

The electoral court has declared conservative Juan Orlando Hernandez of the ruling National Party as the winner. The court said that with 99 percent of ballots counted, Hernandez had 37 percent and Castro was second with 29 percent. Six other candidates shared the remaining votes.

Both Castro and her husband, former President Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted by a coup in 2009, led the protest march from a pickup truck carrying the body of a militant of their Libre Party, who was shot to death hours before the demonstration began.

"We are here to denounce the culture of death promoted since the coup, this can only be a political crime," said Zelaya, whose removal from office has left Honduras polarized.

Libre Party supporter Jose Ardon was kidnapped late Saturday and was found shot to death hours later. He was leader of a group known as the "the motorcyclists," motorcycle riders who have led all marches in support of Zelaya and his wife since the coup.

Zelaya is calling for a vote-by-vote recount and says that as head of the Libre Party he will file a formal complaint with the electoral tribunal Monday.

"If the vote recount is not done by Friday, the legal deadline, we will legally challenge the election," Zelaya said outside the electoral tribunal's warehouse where the vote count is taking place. Libre Party supporters put Ardon's coffin outside the building while Zelaya spoke.

"If they do not accept our complaint, we will go to the courts, and if the courts don't take our case, we will go to international bodies," Zelaya said.

Castro alleges tally sheets were altered, dead or absent people were included in the voter registry, and inadequate monitoring of polling stations allowed for election fraud.

Late Friday, Castro, 54, called the election "a disgusting monstrosity that has robbed me of the presidency" and said she would not recognize Hernandez's government.

Hernandez has said his victory is legitimate and he won't negotiate. He hasn't comment directly on the fraud allegations.

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