The United States has recognized the re-election of Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández, despite widespread allegations of fraud in last month’s election and calls from the Organization of American States (OAS) and US Congress to hold a new vote. The state department issued a statement on Friday congratulating Hernández on his victory, but also urged the country’s electoral commission to fully review any challenges to the results. “The close election results, irregularities identified by the OAS and the EU election observation missions, and strong reactions from Hondurans across the political spectrum underscore the need for a robust national dialogue. A significant long-term effort to heal the political divide in the country and enact much-needed electoral reforms should be undertaken,” said spokesperson Heather Nauert. Nauert also urged “all sides” to refrain from violence amid unrest that has claimed at least 17 lives – most of whom were protesters killed by security forces.
The announcement comes after a month-long standoff between Hernández and his opponent, Salvador Nasralla, who both declared themselves winner amid opposition allegations of fraud.
On the night of the 26 November election, Nasralla was five points ahead of Hernández with nearly 60% of the vote counted – until election authorities stopped releasing results. When the count resumed 36 hours later, Nasralla’s lead had vanished, giving Hernández a narrow win.
The Honduran electoral commission, which is controlled by Hernández allies, named him the country’s next leader on Sunday. But the OAS said the process had been the subject of too many unexplained delays and irregularities “before, during and after” the vote to determine the outcome with certainty – and called for a repeat election.