Honduran protesters, police clash in escalating election crisis

Honduran protesters, police clash in escalating election crisis
# 01 December 2017 00:38 (UTC +04:00)

Honduran police fired tear gas at rock-hurling protesters on Thursday after a widely criticized presidential election that saw the opposition cry foul as the incumbent slowly pulled ahead four days after the vote, APA reports quoting Reuters.

Both President Juan Orlando Hernandez and his rival Salvador Nasralla, a television game show host allied with leftists, claimed victory after Sunday’s election. The vote tally at first favored the challenger, but then swung in favor of the incumbent after hold-ups in the count, fueling talk of irregularities.

International concern has grown about the crisis sparked by the count in the Central American nation which in 2009 saw a military-backed coup. One of the four magistrates on the electoral tribunal flagged “serious doubts” about the process.

The Organization of American States (OAS) appeared to have salvaged the credibility of the election on Wednesday by eliciting signed statements from both candidates vowing to respect the final result once disputed votes had been checked.

But a few hours later, Nasralla, who initially held a five-point lead, rejected the OAS accord he had signed, saying his opponents were trying to rob him. He urged supporters to take to the streets of the capital Tegucigalpa to defend his triumph.

“They take us for idiots and want to steal our victory,” said Nasralla, who heads a left-right coalition.

Marcos Ramiro Lobo, one of the four magistrates, called for an independent external auditor to review the results, but was non-committal on whether there was evidence of electoral fraud.

“We can’t be sure of one thing or the other,” Lobo told Reuters, expressing concern about the vote count breaking down. “What I do know is that serious doubts are being raised.”