Officers of the Honduras National Police have refused to enforce a curfew after days of deadly violence triggered by allegations of electoral fraud.
Honduran police announced on Monday night that they will refuse to obey orders from the government of the incumbent president, Juan Orlando Hernandez, and will remain in their barracks until a political crisis triggered by last Sunday’s contested presidential election has been resolved.
According to reports, all national police as well as hundreds of members of riot police force known as Cobras were refusing to obey the government’s orders during the protests in the capital, Tegucigalpa and instead are striking.
“We want peace, and we will not follow government orders – we’re tired of this,” said a spokesman outside the national police headquarters in Tegucigalpa
“We aren’t with a political ideology. We can’t keep confronting people, and we don’t want to repress and violate the rights of the Honduran people.”
Crowds of anti-government protesters greeted the announcement with cheers.
The small Central American nation of 10 million, which suffers from chronic violence and prolific gang activity, held the presidential vote last Sunday.
Rival candidate Salvador Nasralla has cried foul and his supporters have been on the streets protesting.
Tensions have been high since shortly afterwards. Nasralla was in the lead with a significant margin before a 24-hour hiatus in the official vote count reversed that trend last week. The opposition candidate soon alleged fraud and called on his supporters to take to the streets.
In recent days, Tens of thousands took to the streets in a show of support for Nasralla, a former TV star.
Authorities then restricted the freedom of movement in the country in an attempt to control widening unrest.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on Monday reported that they have received preliminary information on the deaths of 11 Hondurans during the protests.
Meanwhile, the electoral tribunal in Honduras has finished counting votes in the country’s contentious presidential election after more than a week, with incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez having received more votes in the official tally.
Early on Monday, electoral authorities said Hernandez had won 42.98 percent of the votes, compared with opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla’s 41.39 percent, based on 99.96 percent of the votes counted.
But the authorities stopped short of declaring a winner.