Honduras: police refuse to obey government as post-election chaos deepens

from December 4, 2017 at 03:09PM http://bit.ly/2ATBds6

More than a week after a fiercely contested presidential election, Honduran voting authorities have drawn back from naming a winner, after days of deadly violence and mounting pressure to investigate opposition allegations of fraud.

Early on Monday, the government-controlled electoral commission found that US-backed incumbent Juan Orlando Hernandez was ahead of opposition candidate, Salvador Nasralla, by 42.98% to 41.39%, after a recount of suspicious votes from just over 1,000 polling stations.

But the Supreme Electoral Commission, known as the TSE, refrained from declaring a winner and hinted that a wider recount could still be possible.

The delay comes after days of confusion, following delays in the vote count and a sudden reversal of initial exit polls. The string of irregularities has fulled growing frustrations that have boiled over onto the streets and caused many people, including international observers, to question the legitimacy of TSE’s results.

As negotiations continued on Monday, Nasralla’s Alliance party repeated calls for a recount of results from more than 5,000 polling stations which were tabulated after an alleged glitch in the TSE’s vote-counting system on Tuesday – and ultimately reversed a trend that showed he would be the winner. Protestors accuse Hernandez of manipulating votes and “stealing” the election.

“We a going to demand they review the votes from 5,179 stations. If not, we will protest,” spokesperson Rodolfo Pastor wrote to the Guardian.

The TSE’s decision to delay the announcement comes after election monitors from Organization of American States and the European Union called for the commision to honor the opposition’s request to ensure a fair and transparent vote count that all parties will respect.

TSE magistrate Marco Lobo agreed that the votes in question should be recounted and all other allegations of fraud investigated, telling the Guardian that “otherwise the opposition and many Hondurans won’t respect the announcement”.

But late on Monday afternoon, Lobo said that the TSE had still not met to decide whether or not to announce a winner – and had not discussed whether or not it plans to widen the vote count.

Since Sunday, Hondurans have taken to the streets across the country, facing off against security forces clad in riot gear, who used tear gas and water canons. A night-time curfew imposed on Friday has curbed protests, but not put an end to the violence.

On Monday, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reported that they have received preliminary information on the deaths of 11 Hondurans during the protests that have gripped the streets since the election crisis began.

“We condemn all forms of repression (and) regret all the deaths. In a democracy, it’s normal that people have the right to peacefully protest,” said Marisa Matias, head of the EU mission. The United States’ top official, Heide Fulton, congratulated the TSE for the “orderly count” of votes it conducting on Sunday night.

Hernandez is a close ally of the United States, and his government has closely cooperated with Washington on border security, counternarcotics operations and migration policy.

On Monday, Reuters reported that the US state department had certified that Honduras has been supporting human rights and fighting corruption. The certification will allow the Hernandez government to receive millions in US security assistance. In 2017, the US provided 17.3 million in security assistance to Honduras.

Read more at: World news | The Guardian http://bit.ly/2pJ7Aoj

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