Honduras holds general elections amid tight security


Honduras' newly created military police are a hot button in the country's election.


Orlando Sierra

Hondurans are set to go to the polls on Sunday where they will vote for a new president, MPs and local mayors amid tight security.

Nearly 30,000 police and soldiers have been deployed to ensure security on election day in Honduras, known as one of the region's poorest states and the world's murder capital, with an average of 20 people killed a day.

Much of the violence is blamed on gangs and drug traffickers.

A close presidential race is expected between the front-runners, ruling conservative National Party candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez and Xiomara Castro, whose husband Manuel Zelaya was overthrown in a military-backed coup in 2009.

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Castro, 54, is running as part of a newly formed party called Libre. If she wins, she would become the first female president in Honduras.

She has dismissed suggestions that she would take orders from her husband if she was president, with both Castro and Zelaya saying the accusations were machismo.

"Nobody can ignore the fact that I have shared 37 years of my life with him," Castro said, as she defended Zelaya's role as her main adviser. "I take the decisions."

Hernandez, 45, who was president of the national congress until recently, openly supported the coup that overthrew Castro's husband and blames the Zelaya government for many of the country's problems.

With the polls giving Castro and Hernandez a statistical tie, some fear the election's results will be disputed, leading to more instability and protests.

A margin of just one vote is needed to win an election in Honduras, leaving an electoral tribunal to decide if a recount is necessary.