It's "too early" to proclaim election results in Honduras, Matias says
MEP Marisa Matías, chief observer of the EU-EOM in Honduras, offers a press conference in Tegucigalpa, on December 4, 2017. (Photo: Gustavo Amador/EFE)
Tegucigalpa, Dec 5 (efe-epa).- The incumbent president of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernández is set to be re-elected by a margin of 52,347 votes, while the opposition candidate has challenged 5,179 tally sheets.
According to the Head of the European election observation mission, Portuguese MEP Marisa Matias, the opposition’s demand for a fresh review is "reasonable" and it's "too early" to make an official announcement on the final results.
"Our understanding is that to guarantee the transparency of this electoral process and guarantee that the vote of the Honduran people is respected, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) should have total flexibility in accepting the parties’ requests," Matias said during a press conference.
The EU election observation mission stays in Honduras
The EU election observation mission for the general elections in Honduras on November 26, 2017, was set to stay there until the electoral process concluded and the TSE officially declared the results.
In its preliminary report after the elections, a week ago, the observers praised the peace and calm on polling day, but raised doubts over what they described as an excessive delay in vote recount.
The opposition took to the streets, and according to the media, seven people were killed in the violent protests that followed, prompting the declaration of a 10-day curfew on December 1.
After the review of 1,006 tally sheets showing inconsistencies, the TSE's presiding magistrate, David Matamoros, said that the court was in talk with the leaders of the opposition alliance to find answers to their complaints.
With 99.89 percent of the ballots counted, Hernández stood with 42.98 percent of the vote to Salvador Nasralla's 41.39 percent, the difference being of 52,347 votes.
The Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship and its presidential candidate, Nasralla, demanded the electoral body to review 5,179 tally sheets claiming that "fraud" was committed in the elections.
Matias said that the demand for “review and verification of more than 5,000 tally sheets" by the opposition was reasonable, and urged TSE to be flexible.
The process “is far from being over”
Matias stressed that there must be total flexibility for parties to present any petitions or challenges, adding that "Hondurans deserved their votes to be counted with transparency and if that requires more time, it should be allowed".
The EU-EOM Honduras 2017 chief stressed that the Honduran electoral process "is far from being over” since candidates had time until December 6 to file the appeals.
She also urged the TSE to comply with the time limit for appeals and to provide adequate conditions to the candidates to give them enough time to evaluate the irregularities.
"In order to have transparent results and confidence in a system, which the Honduran people do not trust much at this moment, you must give a signal of availability, openness, flexibility and transparency, and that means accepting the petitions and challenges related to the elections,” Matias said.
She specified that the availability of the TSE could mean opening the ballot boxes, recounting tally sheets and everything requested by the candidates.
The chief observer also condemned the "violence" and "repression" she said occurred during the protests led by supporters of the Opposition Alliance a week earlier.
Matias urged the Honduran authorities to conduct a probe into the repression during the protests.
By Anny Castro
Translated by Meena Gupta Seth
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