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Hondurans vote to pick new president

By CNN Staff
updated 11:13 PM EST, Sun November 24, 2013
A man shows a ballot during the vote counting in general elections in Tegucigalpa, Honduras on November 24, 2013.
A man shows a ballot during the vote counting in general elections in Tegucigalpa, Honduras on November 24, 2013.
  • NEW: Early results show ruling party candidate Juan Hernandez with the lead
  • NEW: At the same time, the wife of ousted President Manuel Zelaya claims victory
  • Security concerns and economic woes are top issues for voters

(CNN) -- Preliminary results in Honduras' presidential election show ruling party candidate Juan Hernandez with the lead.

With more than 40% of the votes counted, he had 34%, while his closest competitor, Xiomara Castro, the wife of ousted President Manuel Zelaya, had 28%, according to the country's elections authority.

Both candidates, however, declared victory Sunday night -- setting the stage for a potential showdown in a country wracked by security concerns and economic hardship.

Castro announced her win on live television, while Hernandez did so on Twitter.

"Thank you my God and thanks to the Honduran people for this victory!" he wrote.

Eight candidates competed in the election.

Term limits prevented President Porfirio Lobo, who was elected several months after the 2009 coup that removed Zelaya from power, from seeking a second term.

He and Hernandez are from the same party.

According to Honduras' elections authority, 700 international and 14,000 national observers supervised this year's election, which also included votes for national and local lawmakers.

Honduras has the world's highest murder rate, according to the United Nations. The economy is also a top issue in the Central American country, where about 60% of the population lives below the poverty line.

Inmates running the asylum? In Honduran prisons, that's no joke

CNN's Claudia Dominguez, Elwyn Lopez and journalist Elvin Sandoval contributed to this report.

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