Honduras president says it's time to move on, despite protests, calls for a new vote
Street protests continue, with opponent Salvador Nasrallah taking his cause to U.S. officials
Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez called on the country's leaders Tuesday to accept his disputed re-election and bring peace to the divided country, even as his challenger said he would once again challenge the official result.
"The people have spoken and it only remains to comply with their will, expressed freely at the ballot box," Hernandez said in a televised speech.
But street protests continued Tuesday, with roads and highways blocked at various points by burning tires and rocks two days after the Electoral Tribunal rejected complaints by Salvador Nasralla and declared Hernandez the victor in the Nov. 26 election.
According to the court's official count, Hernandez won with 42.95 per cent to 41.42 per cent for Nasralla, a former sportscaster backed by a left-leaning coalition.
However, the Organization of American States, which had observers monitoring the election, called for a repeat of the election, saying the official version of the count included "extreme statistical improbability."
A Georgetown University researcher who advised the OAS said an implausibly uniform wave of late-breaking results across the country pushed Hernandez past Nasrallah after a daylong interruption in counting.
Nasralla, who was in Washington to rally international support, said he would file a new formal appeal of the results and was encouraged by the reaction of the U.S. government, which issued a statement Monday urging parties unhappy with the vote to take advantage of a five-day period to appeal it.
But Honduras Vice-President Ricardo Alvarez insisted on Monday there would be no do-over.
The election began in controversy over the mere fact Hernandez was seeking re-election. The country's constitution explicitly bans it and another former president — now leader of Nasralla's coalition — was ousted from office by the army, legislature and courts just for allegedly considering it.
But a pro-Hernandez Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that the ban violated his rights, paving the way for him to run.