Honduras opposition demands 'rigged' vote be canceled

Tegucigalpa (AFP) –


Honduras' leftwing opposition is demanding a presidential election held two weeks ago be scrapped and its results annulled, alleging it was "rigged" in favor of incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez.

The Alliance Against the Dictatorship coalition backing Hernandez's chief rival in the poll, Salvador Nasralla, lodged the demand late Friday with the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

Both Hernandez and Nasralla claimed victory after the November 26 election.

The electoral tribunal has not declared any winner, though has released complete results showing Hernandez ended up scoring a very slender advantage over Nasralla -- despite an initial count putting Nasralla comfortably in the lead.

It said Hernandez received 42.98 percent of the ballots, while Nasralla got 41.38 percent. But it said that count could be subject to appeal.

The small Central American nation of 10 million has been mired in uncertainty since the election, with competing demonstrations for Hernandez and Nasralla.

Sporadic violence has occurred, prompting Hernandez to order a state of emergency with a nighttime curfew.

Police, however, have said they will not repress anti-Hernandez protests.

Amnesty International denounced "dangerous and illegal tactics" to silence dissent.

It said at least 14 people have been killed since the election, but there was no confirmation from police or other officials of that toll, at least in relation to the political crisis.

Nasralla, a 64-year-old former TV presenter with minimal political experience, insists the vote was "rigged" to deny him a clear victory.

He initially demanded a partial, then a full recount before the opposition upped the ante further with the request to scrap the presidential election.

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal on Thursday started with a partial recount. But no observers from the opposition took part, making it unlikely that its results would appease Nasralla's camp.

The conservative Liberal Party -- which is not part of the leftwing alliance -- is calling for a cancellation not only of the presidential election but also legislative and local elections that also took place on November 26, and which gave the advantage to Hernandez's rightwing National Party.