OAS says it could call for new Honduran elections (Dec. 7, 2017)
The head of Honduras' Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), David Matamorros, indicated the commission will review votes disputed by the opposition in the still unresolved presidential election from 11 days ago. Specifically the TSE agreed to review the 5,176 tally sheets that were not transmitted to the voting center on the election night -- a key demand of the opposition and the OAS -- as well as three rural departments with unusually high turnout, reports La Prensa.
On Tuesday, President Juan Orlando Hernández expressed willingness to recount all the votes, a statement applauded by regional governments, reports the Associated Press. Opponent Salvador Nasralla called for an international arbiter to oversee a total recount, saying the TSE is tainted because of its role in the process so far, reports La Prensa. Nonetheless, the two parties are not reaching an agreement on how to resolve the political crisis, reports La Prensa separately.
Yesterday the OAS, which released a critical preliminary report of the elections, said it could call for new Honduran elections if any “irregularities” undermine the credibility of results, reports Reuters. The OAS also called for an immediate return of constitutional rights, including freedom of movement. There has been a curfew in place since last week, though the government lifted it in certain departments yesterday, reports La Prensa.
The official count gives Hernández a slim majority over opponent Salvador Nasralla, but the results have been questioned by political parties and international observers. Initial results pointed to a lead for Nasralla, but the trend was reversed in the midst of a slow count and interruptions in the vote counting system. Massive protests were countered with a curfew and police repression, which has led to as many as 11 deaths. The Chamber of Commerce has estimated that $65 million in damage has been done to businesses during the unrest.
Third-place finisher Luis Zelaya of the Liberal party said tally sheets held by his party prove Nasralla's win, reports the AP.
But electoral fraud is hardly the extent of the government's wrongdoing, reports Miguel Salazar in The Nation, which recounts allegations of corruption and association with criminal organizations. Yet, though the anti-corruption wave is ushering political neophytes, he notes that their later impact -- as with Jimmy Morales in Guatemala -- is difficult to predict.