TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo, a conservative businessman, appeared on his way to an easy victory Sunday night in the Honduras presidential election.
Early returns showed Lobo, 61, of the National Party had garnered more than 52 percent of the votes to 34.4 percent for former Vice President Elvin Santos of the Liberal Party, The Miami Herald reported.
Lobo, an opponent of ousted President Manuel Zelaya, remained neutral in the coup that forced Zelaya out of the country at gunpoint June 28.
Zelaya defeated Lobo in 2005, and Santos had served as Zelaya's vice president.
The BBC said the interim government had hoped a high turnout -- more than 60 percent of registered voters had cast ballots -- and a clear winner would give the election legitimacy.
Argentina and Brazil, however, said they would not recognize the results because doing so would legitimize the coup, the British broadcaster reported.
The United States said it would accept the election results.
"Significant work remains to be done to restore democratic and constitutional order in Honduras, but today the Honduran people took a necessary and important step forward," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said in a statement.
Zelaya, who had dismissed the election as a "fraud," had not commented publicly on the results by early Monday.
His supporters had called on voters to boycott the presidential election.
Zelaya was temporarily replaced by in June by Roberto Micheletti. Neither Zelaya nor Micheletti were candidates in the election.
An estimated 30,000 troops were deployed to provide security for Sunday's election, with Zelaya's supporters vowing to demonstrate for his return.