Honduras’ defeated leftist presidential candidate, the wife of ousted former leader Manuel Zelaya, has led thousands of supporters onto the streets of Tegucigalpa to protest an election result she has called fraudulent.
The ruling National Party’s Juan Hernandez, who is head of Congress, won last week’s election with 36.8 percent of the votes, according to the country’s election tribunal.
Xiomara Castro ran as the candidate of the Liberty and Refoundation Party (LIBRE) – a coalition of leftist politicians, unions and indigenous groups founded by her husband. She came second with 28.79 percent of the vote.
We don't want fraud in Honduras. We don't want a government born out of cheating and deception.
But Castro and Zelaya, who was ousted in a 2009 coup that plunged Honduras into a deep political crisis, have refused to acknowledge the results, demanding a recount and setting the stage for a protracted conflict.
“If we revise the ballot boxes, LIBRE won the election,” Zelaya told the protest, the first called by LIBRE since the election. “We don’t want fraud in Honduras. We don’t want a government born out of cheating and deception.”
Review election result
Speaking on local television on Sunday night, David Matamoros, the head of the election tribunal, said the body had spoken with LIBRE and told the party it was willing to allow it to review the electoral record.
However, he made no mention of a full vote recount, which LIBRE has demanded.
“If there is a doubt, and the possibility of clearing up that doubt, we’re going to do it,” Matamoros said.
LIBRE has said it will keep protesting and Zelaya says the party is willing to go the nation’s supreme court to annul the election result.
Given Honduras’ recent history of political instability, however, analysts applauded the fact that the march was peaceful.
“LIBRE’s decision to take its accusations of fraud down a peaceful and legal path guarantees the political stability of Honduras in the short term,” said analyst Francisco Zaravia.
Castro and Zelaya appeared at the march alongside the coffin of 58-year-old Antonio Ardon, a well-known LIBRE supporter who was shot dead by four unknown assailants in Tegucigalpa on Saturday night.
Zelaya said Ardon’s killing was politically motivated and perpetrated by “death squads.” Honduran police said they did not yet know the motive for the killing.