TEGUCIGALPA – Less than two weeks after signaling his withdrawal from politics, Honduran opposition standard-bearer Salvador Nasralla said on Tuesday that he and his supporters are planning fresh protests against what they contend was fraud in the Nov. 26 presidential election.
“The Alliance of Opposition to the Dictatorship never dissolved. I confirm to you that the alliance is more solid than ever, that I will begin to act as the president-elect of the Hondurans, and that (ousted former president) Manuel Zelaya will continue to be the coordinator-general of the alliance’s activities,” Nasralla told a press conference in Tegucigalpa.
Tuesday’s statement represents a dramatic about-face for the former television personality, who said on Dec. 22 that he was “out of the picture” following the US government’s decision to recognize incumbent Juan Orlando Hernandez as the winner of the election.
With the center-left Alliance having scheduled a rally for Saturday in the northern metropolis of San Pedro Sula, Nasralla said on Tuesday that he plans to proclaim himself president during a “grand event” on Jan. 27, when Hernandez is to be sworn-in for a second term.
Both Hernandez and Nasralla claimed victory hours after the polls closed on Nov. 26.
While the first partial results issued by the TSE election court showed Nasralla with what officials described as an “irreversible” lead, an interruption in the tabulation was followed by the release of figures giving Hernandez the advantage.
On Dec. 17, the TSE proclaimed the right-wing incumbent the winner with 42.95 percent of the vote, compared with 41.24 percent for Nasralla.
Five days later, the US State Department congratulated Hernandez on his victory, while also acknowledging “irregularities” in the process, as pointed out by election observers from the Organization of American States and the European Union.
Regarding Hernandez’s attempt to organize a dialogue to resolve the political crisis, Nasralla said that what is needed are internationally mediated talks between him and the incumbent.
“We need to have a dialogue with the government and with the imposter who wants to steal the elections,” Nasralla said in front of reporters, where he was joined by Zelaya.
Hernandez’s re-election bid was controversial from the start, as the Honduran Constitution limits the president to one term.
His candidacy was permitted on the basis of a May 2015 ruling by five Supreme Court judges who owed their appointments to Hernandez.
The pretext for the putsch against Zelaya in 2009 was that his call for a non-binding referendum on constitutional reform was a gambit aimed at allowing him to seek re-election, though any such change could not have taken effect in time for him to run in that year’s presidential election.