HONDURAN presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla alleged ballot fraud yesterday, urging protests as troops rolled toward the capital.
Fears of a repeat of the 2009 US-backed coup against president Manuel Zelaya were raised after a video was posted on social media on Tuesday showing long lines of army trucks carrying soldiers on the road from Siguatepeque to La Esperanza — west of the capital Tegucigalpa. Counting of votes in Sunday’s presidential election resumed after a mysterious two-day hiatus.
Mr Nasralla’s five-point lead over incumbent Juan Orlando Hernandez rapidly shrank to 24,000 — less than 1 per cent — with around half a million ballots left to count.
The Supreme Electoral Tribunal promised a final result by last night.
On Tuesday, Opposition Alliance candidate Mr Nasralla accused the ruling National Party of Honduras (PNH) of putting pressure on the tribunal, which had called his 40-45 per cent lead irreversible days earlier, to steal the election.
He said: “The company hired to give out the results, under pressure from the magistrate president, removed security mechanisms from the data transmission system.”
Mr Nasralla called on his supporters to launch protests against the fraud, insisting: “We’ve already won the election.
“I‘m not going to tolerate this and, as there are no reliable institutions in Honduras to defend us, tomorrow the Honduran people need to defend the vote on the streets.”
PNH National Secretary Juan Zelaya — no relation of the ousted president — called his supporters onto the streets on Tuesday to “defend the triumph,” despite his candidate still trailing at the ballots.
Mr Hernandez succeeded party mate Porfirio Lobo, who took over from Liberal Party congress speaker Roberto Micheletti.
Mr Micheletti was made interim president after the military coup against Mr Zelaya after he won a referendum to extend the presidential term limit — with a pledge not to seek re-election.
The coup was condoned by then US secretary of state Hillary Clinton with the support of former Republican senator Jim DeMint, a prominent backer of US President Donald Trump.
It was followed by a vicious security crackdown with the murders and disappearances of Zelaya supporters and others, including indigenous campaigner Berta Caceres.
Mr Nasralla has said his supporter Mr Zelaya would have influence in a new government, while his wife and former presidential candidate Xiomara Castro would join his cabinet.
He has also promised to review the siting of a US military air base in the country that Mr Zelaya vowed to convert to civilian use.