Honduras president declared election winner; unrest persists

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Protests erupted across Honduras on Monday following an official declaration that President Juan Orlando Hernandez has won re-election, even as the Organization of American States proposed a re-do of the disputed vote.

The OAS, which sent election observers to the country for the Nov. 26 election, issued a statement saying it was impossible to determine the outcome with enough certainty due to irregularities.

Among the problems it listed were “deliberate human intrusions into the computer system, intentional elimination of digital traces,” opened ballot boxes and “extreme statistical improbability regarding levels of participation within the same department,” combined with the narrow vote differential.

“The only possible path for the winner to be the Honduran people is a new call for general elections. … Respecting democratic values and citizens is the necessary road to safeguard society from death and violence,” the OAS said.

Vice-President Ricardo Alvarez rejected the call for new elections and accused opposition leaders of acting like children.

“The only election will be the one in four years,” he said. “In this country there will be order, mark my words, because we won’t let 20 Hondurans paralyze the country.”

Supporters of challenger Salvador Nasralla blocked streets and highways around the country Monday with burning tires and rocks. As soon as police and soldiers cleared obstacles, protesters put them back.

Universities, banks and some other businesses closed due to the disturbances in Tegucigalpa. People who had to work made their commutes on foot.

Most businesses were closed in the country’s second-biggest city, San Pedro Sula. National Police spokesman Jairo Meza said some businesses there had been looted.

A bus was burned near La Lima about 185 miles (300 kilometres) north of Tegucigalpa.

Textile magnate Adolfo Facusse, not a supporter of the president, said people were frustrated by the electoral court decision.

“We must have new elections,” he said. “That is a good decision, but President Hernandez will have to give in to the public.”

“It’s better to be locked up in our houses,” said Maria Velasquez, a teacher living in Valle de Angeles, a town outside the capital.

Maria Gutierrez, a street vendor blocking the entrance to the Kennedy neighbourhood in south Tegucigalpa with dozens of others, said she wants Hernandez gone.

“We’re not fighting for Nasralla or anyone,” she said. “We fight for our rights.”

At least 17 people have died in violent street clashes since the election.

Electoral tribunal president David Matamoros announced Sunday evening that Hernandez had won the election, saying, “We have fulfilled our obligation (and) we wish for there to be peace in our country.”

According to the court’s official count, Hernandez won with 42.95 per cent to 41.42 for Nasralla, who long ago said he would not accept the result.

There was no immediate public comment by Hernandez, whose sister Hilda Hernandez, a Cabinet minister, died Saturday in a helicopter crash.

Marisa Matias, head of the European Union’s observer mission, said Monday that her team had not validated the election results because that was not its role.

The team also would not recommend any new election. “Because that would be interference,” she said.

The first results reported by the electoral court before dawn the day after the election showed Nasralla with a significant lead over Hernandez with nearly 60 per cent of the vote counted.

But public updates of the count mysteriously stopped for more than a day, and when they resumed, Nasralla’s lead steadily eroded and ultimately reversed in Hernandez’s favour.

The OAS decision to call for new elections seemed based in part on an analysis it requested from Irfan Nooruddin, an elections expert at Georgetown University’s foreign service school.

While Hernandez’s National Party said his late surge in the count was due to slow-arriving returns from rural areas where Hernandez was stronger, Nooruddin found evidence questioning that explanation.

He said Nasralla’s share of the vote began plummeting everywhere — in his strongholds as well as those of the National Party — at essentially the same point in the vote count.

There were also jumps in turnout in the last third of polling stations to report, increases so dramatic that statistically they would be expected to appear fewer than once in 1,000 replications, Nooruddin said.

Nooruddin wrote that he can’t explain the jump in turnout or the National Party’s big gain late in the count. “But put together it is consistent with a hypothesis of tampering with the vote tallies that were counted last.”

“I would reject the proposition that the National Party won the election legitimately,” he said.

Nasralla travelled to Washington to present what he called evidence of fraud, and he met Monday with OAS Secretary-General Luis Almagro. He said he also planned to meet with officials from the U.S. State Department and human rights groups.

Interviewed by UneTV during a layover at the Miami airport, Nasralla called Hernandez’s re-election illegitimate and said he would ask the OAS to invoke its democratic charter against Honduras.

“The declaration by the court is a mockery because it tramples the will of the people,” Nasralla said.

Honduras

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

Artist Nathan Scott’s The Face-off is one of Red Deer’s most recent public artworks. It was installed at Servus Arena. (Advocate file photo.)
Red Deer city council opts to leave public art selection to a commission

Only projects costing at least $1 million will now trigger art component

Red Deer City Coun. Michael Dawe spoke up about an attempted break-in at his home during a city council meeting that discussed policing priorities. (Advocate file photo).
All crimes should be reported, says Red Deer’s RCMP superintendent

Policing priorities are cracking down on property and drug crimes

The number of active cases of COVID-19 in the province sat at 4,477 Monday afternoon, up 826 from Friday’s 3,651, said Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw. File photo
COVID-19: Central zone active cases up Monday

Alberta reported 1,440 new COVID-19 cases on Monday from over the weekend,… Continue reading

Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Three Red Deer based dealerships have donated $10,000 to various local organizations including the food bank. (File Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Three Red Deer car dealerships help organizations in need

Three Red Deer automobile dealerships have come together to donate $10,000 to… Continue reading

“Our members have decided they just can’t do this anymore. We’ve protected this province and you’ve treated us like dirt, so enough is enough,” says AUPE vice-president Bonnie Gostola, whose members protested outside the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre on Momday. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Updated: Hospital workers strike in Red Deer

Some surgeries and ambulatory care clinics postponed around the province

Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Every new subscription to the Red Deer Advocate includes a $50 donation to the food bank. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Support the food bank with a subscription to the Red Deer Advocate

The community’s most vulnerable members are always in need of a hand,… Continue reading

The Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre could be affected by cuts to Alberta Health Services announced by the government Tuesday. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
David Marsden: Yes, we know how to do laundry

Union leaders would have us believe there’s something special about their members:… Continue reading

Los Angeles Rams cornerback Troy Hill (22) tips a pass in the end zone intended for Chicago Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney (11) during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. The ball was caught by Rams safety Taylor Rapp, behind, for a touchback. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis )
Rams dominate matchup of tough defences, beat Bears 24-10

Rams dominate matchup of tough defences, beat Bears 24-10

Matthew Raymond, charged with four counts of first degree murder, is taken from provincial court in Fredericton, N.B., on December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Mother of Fredericton shooter says she often advised him to see a doctor for help

Mother of Fredericton shooter says she often advised him to see a doctor for help

PM says budget update won’t have fiscal anchor, suggests one coming after crisis over

PM says budget update won’t have fiscal anchor, suggests one coming after crisis over

Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe speaks during a press conference in south Regina on Wednesday Oct. 21, 2020. Moe will appear at a car rally with supporters this afternoon outside of Regina.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Bell
Four Moe Years: Scott Moe and Saskatchewan Party defeat NDP for 4th straight majority

Four Moe Years: Scott Moe and Saskatchewan Party defeat NDP for 4th straight majority

Bayern's Alphonso Davies controls the ball during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig at the Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany on February 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matthias Schrader
Canadian star Alphonso Davies could be out for two months after injuring ankle

Canadian star Alphonso Davies could be out for two months after injuring ankle

B.C. Lions and Toronto Argonauts owner, Senator David Braley speaks after the CFL announced Vancouver will host the 2014 Grey Cup championship football game during a news conference in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday March 8, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
David Braley, owner of three Canadian Football League franchises, dead at 79

David Braley, owner of three Canadian Football League franchises, dead at 79

Most Read