Honduras Suspends Constitution As President ‘Flees’ Violence
Above photo: Supporters of Salvador Nasralla, presidential candidate for the Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship, protesting in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on Wednesday. Photograph: Jorge Cabrera/Reuters
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The embattled president has gone “allegedly to the United States: what could he be doing there? We don’t know yet,” opposition leader Nasralla said in a Facebook video.
The Honduran government has voted to suspend constitutional guarantees across the country as of 11 pm local time, hours after President Hernandez reportedly fled the country to avoid violent street protests in the wake of the disputed presidential election, Diario La Prensa has reported. The government has also implemented a curfew meant to deter people from publicly demonstrating.
The move was announced on television and radio networks across Honduras by Ebal Diaz, secretary of the Council of Ministers, as a bid to control violence which has erupted across the country since the ballot.
“The officials will announce the scope of the constitutional guarantees that have been adopted by the council of ministers led by the government coordinator, Jorge Ramon Hernandez Alcerro,” Diaz said during the broadcast.
Honduras’ Opposition Alliance candidate Salvador Nasralla earlier claimed Hernandez had fled to the United States ahead of a plan to announce a state of emergency to quell increasingly violent protests against ongoing delays in publishing the results of last Sunday’s election.
The embattled president has gone “allegedly to the United States: what could he be doing there? We don’t know yet,” Nasralla said in a three-minute Facebook video posted late Friday, citing information received from his personal “intelligence service.”
“Here in Honduras, we are in a situation of fraud against me,” the opposition leader continued. “I won the elections with 70 percent of the vote, with 116,000 more votes than Hernandez.
“Mathematically, it is impossible that this would change even with the 30 percent of the ballots left to count.”
Nasralla also warned that President Hernandez allegedly plans to implement a state of emergency later tonight in order to allow the electoral authorities to announce his victory without public reprisal from opposition protesters, three of whom have been killed so far in violent clashes with police.
“Let’s wait and see if this is confirmed, and hope that this won’t happen,” Nasralla concluded.
Meanwhile, President of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) David Matamoros reported that the “special scrutiny” of electoral records was being further delayed.
“We ask for patience, we have nothing to hide,” he said, as violent street protests continued in response to the delayed release of Sunday’s presidential-election results.
Matamoros blamed the delay on the fact that the opposition Alliance delegates arrived late to start the special count, noting that representatives of the National Party and international observers were already present.
The Alliance said they were refusing to take part because the TSE had only agreed to scrutinise 1,300 ballots out of the 5,000 originally requested.
Matamoros announced Thursday that the electoral body will count the remaining 1,031 ballot records under the “special scrutiny” of international organizations in order to “guarantee transparency.”
Groups overseeing the count include the European Union Parliament Electoral Observation Mission in Honduras (EUPEOM), and the Organization of American States (OAS).
The armed forces of Honduras have also appealed for the general population to remain calm as the delayed results of last week’s presidential elections trigger increasingly violent protests.
Voters have taken to the streets to demonstrate their anger at the ongoing delays amid widespread accusations of fraud committed by the country’s electoral body.
Jorge Cerrato, spokesman for the armed forces, released a statement Friday in which he called on Hondurans to maintain “peace, calm and tolerance” as tensions continue to escalate.
“The Armed Forces and the National Police… call on the population to maintain peace, calm, tolerance and not to feed feelings of hatred, revenge and division among the Honduran family,” he said on Twitter.
Las Fuerzas Armadas y la Policía Nacional, reiteramos que nuestro compromiso obedece a salvaguardar el estado de derecho, al respeto de la institucionalidad, así como a cumplir y hacer cumplir la Ley.#SEDENAHN #FFAATV #PoliciaNacional pic.twitter.com/l3m4pRxgHs
— Sedena Honduras (@sedenah) December 1, 2017
“We recognize that the Honduran people have all the right to demonstrate as mandated by the Constitution of the Republic, peacefully without affecting the free movement, physical integrity of people or property.”
The TSE has repeatedly delayed the scheduled release of the results, prompting public displays of anger which are being increasingly met with police violence.
Cerrato insisted that security forces are in the “post-election phase,” faithfully guaranteeing the provisions of electoral law and political organizations, but he cautioned that anyone “inciting and executing acts of vandalism that generate chaos, disorder and destruction,” will be prosecuted “respecting human rights in an unrestricted manner.”
Protesters, meanwhile, are being attacked by the National Police with tear gas and rubber bullets. So far, three people have been killed during demonstrations and dozens more injured.