05/12/2017 Politics

Curfew and disobedience in Honduras as vote recount begins

Honduran TV star turned opposition candidate called on the country's military to rebel from enforcing a curfew that was imposed after deadly protests followed last week's disputed presidential vote.

Opponents in street protest in the center of Tegucigalpa Orlando Sierra / AFP via Telam / LANA
Opponents in street protest in the center of Tegucigalpa Orlando Sierra / AFP via Telam / LANA

Opponents in street protest in the center of Tegucigalpa

Orlando Sierra / AFP via Telam / LANA


Thousands of mostly young demonstrators banged pots and blew shrill horns as they marched through the capital in support of Salvador Nasralla, who accuses the government of trying to steal last week's election. Local TV images showed similar protests in other major cities around the country.

Early last week, Nasralla, a former sportscaster and game show host, appeared to have pulled off an upset victory over U.S.-backed President Juan Orlando Hernandez before the vote count stalled without declaring a clear winner.

Electoral authorities said on Sunday they would announce a winner soon, once they concluded a partial recount.

Addressing protesters from an intersection near where the vote count was taking place, Nasralla called on the armed forces to disobey their leaders and urged his supporters to continue peaceful protests.

“I call on all members of the armed forces to rebel against your bosses,” Nasralla told a cheering throng of supporters who booed nearby troops. “You all over there, you shouldn't be there, you should be part of the people,” he said.

Hundreds have been arrested in violent protests that have left at least three dead. The government imposed a military-enforced curfew on Friday.

Nasralla called on his supporters to rush home from the rally and begin banging on pots and pans at 6 p.m. sharp, when the curfew takes effect.

The country's electoral tribunal began a partial recount of nearly 6%of the vote. The recount was projected to stretch into the early hours of Monday. Nasralla has demanded the recount be widened to include thousands more polling stations, but electoral officials have not agreed to expand the review.

The Organization of American States on Sunday said in a statement that the tribunal should not stop with the limited recount. It said Nasralla's demand to recount more than 5,000 polling stations was doable.

Nasralla's early 5-percentage-point lead on Monday was later reversed, after a pause of more than a day in the count, in favor of Hernandez, leading to accusations of vote fraud and calls for protests. Disputed votes could swing the outcome.

Under the official count, Hernandez had 42.9% of the vote while Nasralla has 41.4%, with 95% of votes tallied. The curfew expanded powers for the army and police to detain people and break up blockades of roads, bridges and public buildings.

Social media showed Hondurans across the country banging pots and pans in their homes and in the streets at night in protest over the curfew.