TEGUCIGALPA – Nationwide protests over alleged fraud in Honduras’ presidential election were continuing on Friday, with supporters of the opposition candidate setting up blockades on roads leading to major cities.
Election authorities still have not announced the winner of the Nov. 26 contest, in which both Salvador Nasralla, of the Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship, and incumbent Juan Orlando Hernandez, of the National Party, have claimed victory.
According to the most recent official figures on Thursday night, Hernandez had a slight lead – 1,332,833 votes to Nasralla’s 1,286,245 – with 94.31 percent of the tally sheets counted.
Supporters of the opposition coalition set up roadblocks Friday in different parts of the country, including the capital, Tegucigalpa, and the northern city of San Pedro Sula, the country’s second-largest.
Official reports indicate that an undetermined number of demonstrators have been injured, while an official with the Public Safety Secretariat said Friday that a dozen police and soldiers had sustained injuries.
Incidents of vandalism and looting occurred Thursday night in the capital, where protesters knocked down a statue of Gen. Manuel Bonilla, the founder of the National Party in the early 20th century.
In San Pedro Sula, vandals set fire to toll booths on the northern, southern and eastern outskirts of the city, while violent incidents also were registered in the nearby city of Choloma, the country’s third-largest.
The protests began Wednesday night after Nasralla accused the country’s top election authority, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), of manipulating the voting results.
The president of the TSE, David Matamoros, said Wednesday that the computerized vote tabulation system had crashed and that technicians were working to solve the problem but that the results had not been altered.
The TSE had said the winner would be announced Thursday, although that deadline was missed due to inconsistencies in more than 1,000 tally sheets.
Those sheets are to be scrutinized beginning Friday but it remains unclear how long the process will take, thus prolonging the uncertainty and political crisis in this impoverished, crime-wracked Central American country.
International observers recommended Thursday that 100 percent of the tally sheets be scrutinized before the winner is announced.