OPPOSITION candidate Salvador Nasralla issued a call at the weekend for the Honduran presidential election to be rerun after the government authorised the security forces to quell mass unrest.
Cabinet secretary Jorge Hernandez said that some constitutional guarantees would be suspended for 10 days to allow security forces to bring the situation under control and a 6pm-to-6am curfew was declared nationwide.
“The curfew is to safeguard the security of the country,” he said after meeting poll observers from the Organisation of American States and the European Union.
“This is the time for the people to feel supported by their armed forces and their police, because it cannot be that somebody decides to loot or rob.”
Police have been accused of a number of shootings, with up to six civilians dead, including a 19-year-old woman killed at a pro-Nasralla protest by gunmen identified as police officers.
“We still do not know if the assailants were police officers or not, but the case is being thoroughly investigated,” claimed the police.
National Police spokesman Jair Meza said that 12 people had been wounded in clashes between officers, armed with tear gas, batons and water cannon, and protesters.
He added that numerous businesses had been looted in the capital and in San Pedro Sula.
The Supreme Election Tribunal (TSA) claims to be carrying out a hand count of over 1,000 polling boxes that presented “inconsistencies,” but the opposition is concerned over the suspension of the running results service and a supposed TSA computer breakdown that came when Mr Nasralla was five points ahead in the count.
The TSA now puts incumbent Juan Orlando Hernandez ahead by 46,000 votes, with 95 per cent of votes counted.
Mr Nasralla stressed that his demand for a rerun applied only to the presidential poll, not the parliamentary and other elections held at the same time, adding that a fresh ballot should be conducted “under the supervision of an international electoral tribunal, not the local one, because there aren’t sufficient conditions to guarantee” a fair vote.
Asked what reply he had received from the government, he replied: “They haven’t responded and I don’t think they will.”
The crisis is reminiscent of the 2009 coup that ousted president Manuel Zelaya, whose Libre party is part of the coalition which is seeking to unseat Mr Hernandez.