EFETegucigalpa

The ruling National Party of Honduras Tuesday conceded defeat in the presidential elections, paving the way for the leftist candidate, Xiomara Castro, to become the first woman president of the South American nation.

Nasry Asfura, the presidential candidate of the ruling party, congratulated the "president-elect” Castro even as the vote count of Sunday's election was far from over.

Castro, 62, of the left-wing Libre Party, was ahead of Asfura with a commanding 20-point lead that could end 12 years of National Party rule.

Castro is the wife of former president Manuel Zelaya, ousted in a coup in 2009.

The National Electoral Council said Castro had 53 percent of the votes and Asfura 34 percent, even as 48 percent of the tallies were still uncounted.

The ruling party candidate said he had met with Castro and her family to congratulate them before he “publicly" conceded the defeat.