Thu | Dec 14, 2017

Opposition wants redo of Honduras elections amid protests

Published:Monday | December 4, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Residents of Honduras' capital were bracing for more demonstrations after a night of pot-banging protests over the long-delayed vote count in last week's presidential elections.

The sound of bottle-rockets, clanging pots, and chants echoed through Tegucigalpa late Saturday, and the opposition planned new protests against alleged vote fraud against opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla, who is calling for a redo of the election.

President Juan Orlando Hernandez leads the partial vote count, and his government has imposed a 10-day curfew of 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. to quell continuing demonstrations. On Saturday, the curfew was dropped for the country's two main tourist areas, the Bay Islands and the Mayan ruins of Copan.

Clashes between protesters and troops have killed at least one person, and perhaps as many as a half-dozen.

Both Hernandez and Nasralla, a television personality, have claimed victory in the November 26 vote. Nasralla had been leading in the count until a lengthy delay interrupted reports from electoral officials, feeding opposition complaints of irregularities. Officials blamed the pause on technical problems and denied any manipulation.

"I have asked them to repeat the elections, but only those for the presidency, with the aim of resolving the crisis that Honduras is suffering," Nasralla told The Associated Press.

He said that a new election "would be under the supervision of an international electoral tribunal, not the local one, because there aren't sufficient conditions to guarantee" that the vote would be fair. Asked what response he got from the government to the proposal, Nasralla said, "They haven't responded, and I don't think they will."

 

KILLED AT PROTESTS

 

Honduras's national police force said that a 19-year-old woman was shot to death overnight at a pro-Nasralla protest by gunmen who witnesses say were police. The national police force said it was investigating the attack. Witnesses and opposition activists claim that at least five others have been killed at protests nationwide.

On Saturday, the government of Mexico urged Honduras to bring in international observers for the vote count, which has been essentially frozen because Nasralla's supporters want far more ballot boxes recounted than what the country's electoral tribunal has offered.

The country's electoral court had finished counting nearly 95 per cent of the ballot boxes from the November 26 presidential election by late Friday and said it would conduct a hand count of 1,031 other boxes that presented "inconsistencies".

Hernandez held a lead of more than 46,000 votes over Nasralla before the last-stage count. It was not immediately clear how many votes could be at play in the uncounted boxes.

- A.P.