OAS chief Luis Almagro finally released a statement on the Honduran elections.
After almost two weeks since Honduran elections, the Organization of American States said it may urge for a new presidential vote if “irregularities” continue to undermine the credibility of the Nov. 26 results, which have not been officially announced.
OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro said in a written statement the regional group would prefer to audit the existing ballots, rather than initiate a new vote, adding that Honduran citizen confidence in its electoral system cannot be restored “without an exhaustive and meticulous process of verification that determines the existence or not of an electoral fraud.”
The Opposition Alliance’s Salvador Nasralla and many national and international organizations have called voter fraud, as a wide lead was erased to right-wing incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez of the National Party.
With the electoral process in its second week Nasralla and his team began calling for a run off election if a full ballot recount under international scrutiny couldn’t be completed.
The Opposition Alliance first demanded an internationally audited recount of the ballots from over 1,000 polling stations. This was carried out. They later demanded that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal recount the disputed ballots from over 5,000 polling stations. TSE officials and Hernandez agreed to the ballots in questions late last night after regional pressure.
Alliance evidence of electoral irregularities on the part of the TSE and its Director David Matamoros has incited profound distrust of the TSE from the opposition camp, creating a virtual stalemate in the process. Nasralla said late last night, “you can’t present your demands to a tribunal that isn’t neutral.”
He said he no longer recognizes the TSE and demands that an international mediator oversees any recount. “If we hadn’t had international participation, we would truly be in the law of the jungle,” Nasralla commented.
Nasralla and his team had earlier sent the TSE its 11 demands for electoral transparency, which included the revision of ballot boxes they say arrived at TSE offices “opened” exposing “sensitive information,” but they haven’t been completed.
Luis Zelaya, of the Liberal Party and third runner-up in the elections, has thrown his support to Nasralla and agreed that a full recount under OAS and European Union observation should take place.
Meanwhile, Matamoros was vague Wednesday night as to whether a full recount or a new election will take place.
According to current TSE figures, Hernandez is ahead with 42.98 percent while Nasralla has 41.38 percent of votes. The TSE has counted, at least once, nearly 100 percent of all ballots. By law, the TSE has until Dec. 26 to declare a winner.
Other OAS requests were that the Honduran government restore all constitutional rights to citizens and lift the nighttime national curfew, both of which were put in place Dec. 1. After the statement was released the administration lifted the curfew in nearly half of the country’s departments, but it’s still in effect in most of the nation until Dec. 11.
The curfew was put in place to limit Opposition Alliance supporters from protesting what they say was a stolen election. Despite the curfew, however, thousands of opposition supporters continue to rally day and night on the streets and highways of Honduras.
The Honduran Committee for Families of the Detained and Disappeared said that 14 people have been killed, 51 injured and 844 detained so far during the post-election protests.
Hernandez supporters are reportedly marching today in Tegucigalpa to support their candidate.
The U.S. State Department released a statement yesterday advising U.S. citizens to delay or cancel travel to Honduras “due to ongoing political protests and the potential for violence.”