Tens of thousands took to the streets across Honduras on Sunday, demanding a new president and an end to a week-long election debacle which has plunged the volatile country into its worst political crisis since a coup in 2009. “Out with JOH” was the unifying chant, sung by protesters who accuse Juan Orlando Hernández of meddling with the vote count in order to deny victory to the opposition Alliance leader, Salvador Nasralla. The country’s beleaguered electoral commission (TSE) made a long-awaited announcement on how it plans to resolve the crisis just as the marches got under way. After a week of delays, negotiations and accusations of bias and incompetence, the chief magistrate of the TSE, which is controlled by the ruling National party, announced that the election winner would be declared after a recount of just 1,000 suspicious voting tallies.
The Alliance, which has a list of 11 demands it believes are necessary to ensure a fair and transparent vote count, slammed the decision as inadequate and said it would not attend the recount or accept the results. As the news spread, protesters grew louder, blowing horns and throwing firecrackers.
“The latest decision is one of a conglomerate of actions during the electoral process that we refuse to recognise … we won’t permit allow this to happen, just like we won’t allow another Hernández government,” said Dina, 34, an anthropologist marching in Tegucigalpa.
Some protesters wanted fresh elections. “We need new elections so the people know who really won … the constitution doesn’t allow it but now maybe the constitution doesn’t matter at all,” said Freddy, 26, an industrial engineering student.