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Election crisis engulfs Honduras

Since last Sunday’s election, at least one protester has died, over 20 people were injured and more than 100 others were arrested for looting after opposition leaders accused the government of trying to steal the election by manipulating the vote count
People raise their fists as they sing the national anthem, while waiting for official presidential election results outside the warehouse of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal in Tegucigalpa, Honduras – Photo: Jorge Cabrera/REUTERS
02/12/2017
11:15
Reuters
Mexico City
-A +A

On Sunday, Hondurans voted in a presidential election that many expected to result in a second term for the current U.S.-friendly leader, eight years after he supported a coup against a former president who also floated the idea of reelection.

Three days after polling stations closed in Honduras’ presidential election, there was growing international concern with no clear winner and both Juan Orlando Hernández and Salvador Nasralla claiming victory, despite nearly a fifth of ballots remaining uncounted.

Stricken with poverty, drug gangs and one of the world’s highest murder rates, Honduras is one of the United States’ closest military and ideological allies in Central America.

On Wednesday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert urged Honduran authorities to review the election results without delay: “We urge all candidates to respect the results,” she said, a move which has been widely criticized.

Later that day, resolution to the festering crisis had appeared possible when both candidates vowed to respect the final result once disputed votes had been scrutinized, issuing identical signed statements brokered by the Organization of American States (OAS).

But the accord did not last long.

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The delays led to violence, and observers fear they could risk undermining the eventual winner’s legitimacy – Photo: Edgard Garrido/REUTERS

On Thursday, Honduran police fired tear gas at rock-hurling protesters after the contentious presidential election that looks set to drag on for two more days without a clear winner, deepening the political crisis in the Central American nation.

Nasralla’s followers took to the streets, protesting throughout Honduras. At least nine people were injured in protests in the capital, Tegucigalpa, as well as two police officers and a soldier, emergency services said. Six of the nine had been shot.

Thus, Honduras enforced today a curfew for ten days while still mired in chaos over a contested presidential election that has triggered looting and protests.

Since last Sunday’s election, at least one protester has died, over 20 people were injured and more than 100 others were arrested for looting after opposition leaders accused the government of trying to steal the election by manipulating the vote count.

Salvador Nasralla, who helms a broad left-right coalition called the Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship, is one of Honduras’ best-known faces, hosting a sports programme and a television game show that features scantily clad women. He is backed by leftist former President Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted in a coup in 2009 after he proposed a referendum on his re-election. The possible return of Zelaya risks fueling concern in Washington.

Juan Orlando Hernandez, of the center-right National Party has won U.S. praise for helping tackle a flow of migrants to the north and extraditing drug cartel leaders to the United States. He was credited with lowering the murder rate and boosting the economy but was also hurt by accusations of ties to illicit, drug-related financing that he denies.

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