After weeks of nationwide protests in Honduras over allegations of election fraud in the nation’s November presidential election—in which the incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernández ultimately claimed victory—opposition parties are calling for a sustained uprising and a new election as human rights groups and families of protesters who have been killed in the military police’s brutal crackdown are demanding justice for those who have died in the streets.
Protesters, who have been met “with security forces who used teargas, water cannon, and live ammunition,” believe that Hernández’s leftist challenger, Salvador Nasralla, rightfully won the election. Following the initial outbreak of protests, the government conducted a recount of more than 5,000 polling stations, overseen by an observer mission from the European Union (EU), which led the Tribunal Supremo Electoral to confirm Hernández’s victory in mid-December.
Although demonstrations slowed over the holidays, on Tuesday Nasralla and fellow opposition leaders held a press conference to announce upcoming “protest actions”—including a march this weekend in San Pedro Sula, the nation’s second-largest city—and encourage supporters to maintain a presence in the streets leading up to Hernández’s inauguration near the end of the month.
“Our objective is that on January 27 the popular will come to pass, regardless of what the electoral officials want to say,” Nasralla said, according to Democracy Now! “The electoral officials have to respect my victory. If they don’t respect it, then the people will respect my victory.”
“The president is Nasralla,” former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya—who was ousted by a U.S.-backed coup in 2009 and now serves as the leftist opposition’s chief coordinator—reportedly declared. “Nobody should obey a usurper government.”
Human rights experts from the United Nations and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have said they are “alarmed by the illegal and excessive use of force to disperse protest,” and Amnesty International has criticized the Honduran government for “deploying dangerous and illegal tactics to silence any dissenting voices.”
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