Honduras police refuse crackdown on protesters

Honduran police have rebelled against orders to crack down on protests following the disputed presidential election.

    Supporters of Salvador Nasralla, presidential candidate for the Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship, raise their fists as they sing the national anthem [Jorge Cabrera/Reuters]
    Supporters of Salvador Nasralla, presidential candidate for the Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship, raise their fists as they sing the national anthem [Jorge Cabrera/Reuters]

    Over the last 24 hours, scores of Honduran police units rebelled against orders to crack down on demonstrations over suspected electoral fraud in the presidential election.

    The National Police followed on Tuesday, issuing a statement that said it "ratifies its commitment before Honduran society and firmly maintains [its stance] of not repressing the Honduran people".

    The police rebellion began on Monday, with the elite COBRA unit saying in a statement that the Honduran people "are sovereign and thus we owe them ... to not confront them and repress their rights".

    Immediately following the COBRA's announcement, dozens of units joined it at the police national headquarters, according to local media. 

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    The police are refusing to turn against demonstrators who largely support presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla of the Opposition Alliance party.

    Later on Tuesday, former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya said that Nasralla wanted a total recount of the votes or a direct run-off to resolve the political crisis, according to Reuters news agency. 

    It looked as if Nasralla, a former television personality, would achieve an upset win over President Juan Orlando Hernandez of the conservative National Party of Honduras, during the initial vote count.

    Nasralla initially had a 5 percent lead over Hernandez. The lead shrunk as the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) continued counting votes and released sometimes delayed reports. 

    Hernandez eventually took the lead with 42.98 percent over Nasralla's 41.39 percent.

    Both candidates have announced victory since the November 26 election. Nasralla said he would not accept Hernandez's victory, citing concerns that the National Elections Commission had rigged the vote.

    The crisis worsened on November 28, when the pro-Nasralla demonstrations began after delays in the vote count. Police began enforcing a strict curfew on December 2, after days of protests.

    Neither candidate has been declared the victor.

    Protesters filled the capital, Tegucigalpa, on Sunday, calling for a recount.

    The TSE has since recounted six percent of the votes, and David Matamoros, a member of the TSE and Hernandez's National Party, told reporters the tally remained the same.

    While the police rebellion has partly calmed the crisis, Hondurans are worried that the unrest may continue past the point of a victory declaration.

    "Declaring who is the winner and who is the loser won't resolve the problem because the crisis is installed," Bertha Oliva, coordinator of human rights organisation COFADEH told Al Jazeera earlier this week.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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