For Immediate Release: November 25, 2013
Contact: Dan Beeton, 202-239-1460
Two Parties Dispute Official Results; Observers Report Numerous Irregularities During Voting and Tally Counting Processes
Washington, D.C. — The international community should pause before offering recognition of the results of the Honduran elections Sunday, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said today. Weisbrot noted that two political parties had claimed that the official results as reported by the Honduran electoral authority did not match what were transmitted to them. Weisbrot also noted that some voting centers were reported closed during the counting process, even though they are supposed to be open to public scrutiny, and that some international electoral observers reported that officials told them to leave as they attempted to monitor the tabulation process. International observers from a number of organizations reported various irregularities during the voting process as well.
“It’s significant that two political parties – with different ideologies – are claiming that the official results don’t match up with what they were told,” Weisbrot said. “There were also numerous irregularities reported by media outlets and international observers during both the voting and the tally-counting processes. The international community should exercise caution before commenting publicly on any reported results.”
National Party candidate Juan Orlando Hernández told his supporters that the presidents of Colombia, Panama and Guatemala had offered him congratulations last night; Spanish newswire EFE reported today that the Spanish government had as well.
“These reports, assuming they are true, would constitute a gross interference in the Honduran electoral process by governments such as Spain and Panama,” said Weisbrot. “These governments are declaring a winner before there is even an official vote count by the electoral authorities. There is no excuse for such behavior.”
Weisbrot noted that similar and probably co-ordinated interventions by right-wing governments have been used to bolster their allies in past disputed elections, such as Mexico in 2006, where there were massive irregularities and no clear winner.
The partial results as reported by Honduras' electoral authorities (the TSE) are being disputed by two of the political parties and presidential candidates: Xiomara Castro of the LIBRE party (who the TSE says finished second, based on 54 percent of electoral tallies counted) and Salvador Nasralla of the Anti-corruption Party (PAC) (who the TSE says finished fourth). Nasralla told various TV and radio outlets last night that the results reported by the TSE did not match those that were transmitted to the parties. As part of the counting process, tally results from the voting centers are shared with the parties.
Weisbrot also criticized U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Lisa Kubiske for stating that, “I recognize the announced results and what our observers saw during the process,” which he noted was “premature” in light of the ongoing dispute and the lack of an official vote count.
International observers reported various violations and irregularities throughout the day, both during voting and the tally-counting process. During the voting, observers reported various incidents of apparent party allegiance buying, where voting center representatives of small parties may have sold their representation to the National Party, as well as National Party intimidation and threats against observers and other party representatives. There are also allegations, with purported photo evidence, of vote-buying by the National Party in various voting centers. These are among other irregularities reported by human rights organizations, lawyers' delegations, and others. Further, the murders of two LIBRE leaders on the eve of the elections as well as the murders of five people in Mosquitia, which led to the suspension of the electoral process in the local community, were notable and serious violent incidents that impacted the election.
Weisbrot also noted that regardless of the outcome, “Honduras' century-long two-party dominance of the political system has been broken. The LIBRE party especially has emerged as a major political force, institutionalizing in a political way the massive social movement that erupted in opposition to the 2009 coup, offering greater representation to the interests of Honduras' historically disenfranchised sectors.”
Weisbrot noted that “it would be difficult to call these free and fair elections in any case,” given the a year-and-a-half period of violence and political repression which – among political parties - mostly targeted the new LIBRE party of former first lady Xiomara Castro de Zelaya. Human rights organizations documented the murders of 18 candidates, activists and supporters of LIBRE since May 2012, and many more attacks and threats against others. Two more LIBRE leaders were killed the night before the elections in Canta Rana in the Francisco Morazán Department.
LIBRE emerged from the movement in opposition to the 2009 coup d’etat to challenge Honduras’ century-old two-party system, during which opponents of the coup as well as women, the LGBT community, trade unionists, lawyers, journalists, Afro-Honduras, indigenous communities and others experience a spike in murders and attacks – some carried out by the security forces.
“This was already a deeply flawed process for months before voters got to the polls,” Weisbrot said. “Those who say the elections were peaceful and calm – including the U.S. government -- are ignoring an 18-month period of violence targeting one party in particular. Murders on the eve of the vote and intimidation and threats throughout election cast a cloud on the election.”