Fri, Dec 22, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Opposition calls for more protests after Honduran election

AFP, TEGUCIGALPA

Honduras’ left-wing opposition on Wednesday urged days of intensified protests to challenge Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez’s claims that he won a new mandate in an election last month marred by suspicions of fraud.

It called for a demonstration in front of military command headquarters in the capital, Tegucigalpa, to decry “murders” that it claimed took place during robust crackdowns by security forces.

Roads in or near several towns have been blocked, with protesters setting fire to tires.

The Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship urged another “peaceful” protest yesterday to march on the US embassy, and asked demonstrators to take to streets across the country today.

The protests are against Hernandez’s claim of victory in the poll, after electoral authorities last weekend belatedly said he beat the opposition candidate, Salvador Nasralla, by 1.5 percentage points in the Nov. 26 election.

However, Nasralla has maintained that he won the vote, which the opposition said was rigged, and which international observers have said was beset by irregularities.

Nasralla was due back in Honduras on Wednesday, after a trip to the US to press his allegations of fraud in meetings with US Department of State officials and the Washington-based Organization of American States.

The US appeared to be leaning toward endorsing a win for Hernandez, a 49-year-old conservative.

A senior department official told reporters that Washington has so far not seen “anything that alters the final result that the [electoral authority] has come out with.”

Guatemala and Colombia have already said they recognize Hernandez’s re-election.

On Tuesday, Hernandez urged the opposition to engage in talks with him to calm the crisis.

However, the opposition rebuffed the appeal, and 64-year-old Nasralla said he would only enter talks if it were to confirm him as president-elect.

He is demanding that the election be held again.

Twelve people have been killed in the protests and hundreds arrested, the UN said on Wednesday, voicing its concern over “excessive use of force.”

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