Honduran Court Rules For Incumbent President Weeks After Disputed Vote
Updated at 5:40 a.m. ET
Weeks after a deadlocked and disputed presidential election, a special court declared incumbent Juan Orlando Hernandez the winner by a razor-thin margin.
In a nationwide television broadcast, Electoral court president David Matamoros declared Hernandez the winner over his television star rival Salvador Nasralla, saying "We have fulfilled our obligation [and] we wish for there to be peace in our county."
The official winning margin was just 1.53 percentage points — 42.95 for Hernandez, 41.42 for Nasralla.
Soon after the announcement, the Organization of American States (OAS) called instead for fresh elections, echoing similar calls from Nasralla's Anti-Corruption Party. OAS said the Nov. 26 vote was subject to irregularities, lacked integrity and had "very low technical quality."
"The people of Honduras deserve an electoral process that confers them democratic quality and guarantees. The electoral process that the tribunal concluded today clearly did not provide that," OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro said in a statement.
NPR's Carrie Kahn tells Morning Edition that the OAS "gave a stunning list of reasons why the wanted a new election."
"They said there were deliberate human intrusions into the computer system that counted the vote. They said there [was] the intentional elimination of digital traces in the system. And, they even pointed to open ballot boxes," Carrie says. "And this one was most troubling: they asked a Georgetown University professor to analyze the results and he concluded that there was an extreme statistical improbability that late election returns could have swung so heavily in favor of the incumbent."
Even so, European Union election observers said a recount of the ballots showed no irregularities.
At least 17 people have died in election-related violence since the vote three weeks ago.
Well before the Election court's announcement, Nasralla had challenged the results and refused to accept them. As NPR's Carrie Kahn reports, suspicion grew "after a computer glitch knocked out vote returns for 36 hours." In a video posted to Facebook, Nasralla charged fraud "before, during and after" the election and called the Election court's decision a "desperate move."
Nasralla — en route to Washington to meet with officials from the OAS, the State Department and human rights groups, according to The Associated Press — was interviewed during a layover in Miami airport on Sunday – he told UneTV that the court's ruling "is a mockery because it tramples the will of the people."
According to the AP:
"Former President Manuel Zelaya, a Nasralla ally, called for civil disobedience from the population and for the armed forces to recognize Nasralla.
'May God take us having made our confessions because today the people will defend in the streets the victory that it obtained at the ballot box,' Zelaya said."
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