Honduras ruling party concedes, crowning leftist candidate Xiomara Castro president-elect
Tegucigalpa Mayor Nasry Asufra, the presidential candidate for Honduras' ruling conservative National Party, conceded defeat in Sunday's election to leftist opposition candidate Xiomara Castro on Tuesday, saying he had already congratulated her privately but "now I want to say it publicly," that "I congratulate her for her victory and as president-elect, I hope that God illuminates and guides her so that her administration does the best for the benefit of all of us Hondurans."
Castro was ahead in the pre-election polls and with 52 percent of the votes tallied, she leads Asufra 53 percent to 34 percent. Asufra's concession was a relief to Hondurans bracing for a repeat of 2017's marred election, in which President Juan Orlando Hernández was declared the winner after three tense weeks amid street protests that left 23 people dead. His National Party has held power since a 2009 coup deposed Castro's husband, Manuel Zelaya, and popular discontent with the party grew in recent years amid a series of corruption scandals and worsening economic hardship.
Minutes after Asufra publicly conceded, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken congratulated "the people of Honduras on their election and Xiomara Castro on her historic victory as Honduras' first female president." He added, "We look forward to working with the next government of Honduras."
"But Castro will face major challenges," The Associated Press notes. "Unemployment is above 10 percent, northern Honduras was devastated by two major hurricanes last year, and street gangs drag down the economy with their extortion rackets and violence."