US moves to accept results of Honduran election

Police stand amid tear gas as they clash with supporters of opposition presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. President Juan Orlando Hernandez has been declared the winner of Honduras' disputed election, but that isn't quelling unrest from weeks of uncertainty as his main challenger calls for more protests Monday and vows to take his claims of fraud to the OAS. (AP Photo/Fernando Antonio)

(CNN)The United States appears to be moving closer to recognizing Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández as the legitimate victor of last month's election, despite widespread allegations of fraud and a call by the Organization of American States for a new vote.

Hernández, seeking a second term, was declared the winner of the election. The Honduran electoral commission, which is controlled by supporters of Hernández, said Sunday that Hernández won the election by a margin of about 50,000 votes.
The OAS observer mission, however, said the vote contained many irregularities and the results could not be verified. His opponent, Salvador Nasralla, has accused Hernandez of stealing the election, which has prompted nationwide protests.
The Trump administration has not formally recognized Hernández as the winner of the election. The State Department noted in a statement Monday that "Honduras' Supreme Electoral Tribunal has declared incumbent president Juan Orlando Hernández the winner" and urged the opposition to file its complaints with the electoral commission.
    On Wednesday a senior State Department official told reporters that Washington has "not seen anything that alters the final result," nothing that Mexico had also recognized Hernandez.
    "The Mexican statement, and its review, indicates that a call for a new election is a pretty dramatic outcome in this case," said the official.
    The official said the US could withhold a final judgment on the election until the end of a five-day period in which the opposition can present evidence to contest the results. Senior US officials met Nasralla in Washington this week.
    "He did not have any new (allegations of) fraud (or) evidence to present to us, and I think we are going to work through this quickly to get to a definitive US statement," said the official, raising the possibility that the US could make a judgment before the five-day period is over.
    "The Mexican statement is going to have a strong influence on whether we think we can move forward sooner," he said. "The Mexicans seem pretty certain in their statement."