Almost two weeks after the disputed Honduran elections, the Organization of American States has said it may call for a new presidential vote if "irregularities" continue to undermine the credibility of the Nov. 26 results, which have still not been officially announced.
OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro said in a written statement the regional group would prefer to audit the existing ballots rather than initiate a new vote, but citizen confidence in Honduras' electoral system cannot be restored "without an exhaustive and meticulous process of verification that determines the existence or not of an electoral fraud."
The European Union mission also recommended Honduras' electoral authorities adopt "flexible deadlines" for the presentation of complaints over fraud and irregularities during the vote — one day before the deadline.
In a formal statement late Thursday, the mission encouraged political parties and candidates to "use institutional mechanisms" to convey their demands, stressing "the need to preserve the right to protest" while calling for calm.
The Opposition Alliance's Salvador Nasralla and many national and international organizations have denounced apparent voter fraud after his initial lead was erased in favor of right-wing incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez of the National Party.
With the electoral process in its second week, Nasralla and his team have begun calling for a run-off election if a full ballot recount under international scrutiny can't be completed.
The Opposition Alliance first demanded an internationally audited recount of the ballots from over 1,000 polling stations. They later demanded that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal recount the disputed ballots from over 5,000 polling stations.
TSE officials and Hernandez agreed to the ballots in questions late Wednesday after regional pressure.
Alliance evidence of electoral irregularities on the part of the TSE and its Director David Matamoros has incited profound distrust within the opposition camp, creating a virtual stalemate in the process. Nasralla said late last night: "You can't present your demands to a tribunal that isn't neutral."
He said he no longer recognizes the TSE and demands that an international mediator oversee any recount: "If we hadn't had international participation, we would truly be in the law of the jungle."
Nasralla and his team had earlier sent the TSE its 11 demands for electoral transparency, which included the revision of ballot boxes they say arrived at TSE offices "opened" exposing "sensitive information," but they have yet to be completed.
Luis Zelaya, of the Liberal Party and third runner-up in the elections, has thrown his support to Nasralla and agreed that a full recount under OAS and European Union observation should take place.
Meanwhile, Matamoros was vague Wednesday night as to whether a full recount or a new election will take place.
According to current TSE figures, Hernandez is ahead with 42.98 percent while Nasralla has 41.38 percent of votes. The TSE has counted, at least once, nearly 100 percent of all ballots. By law, the TSE has until Dec. 26 to declare a winner.
Other OAS requests were that the Honduran government restore all constitutional rights to citizens and lift the nighttime national curfew, both of which were put in place Dec. 1. After the statement was released the administration lifted the curfew in nearly half of the country’s departments, but it’s still in effect in most of the nation until Dec. 11.
The curfew was put in place to limit Opposition Alliance supporters from protesting what they say was a stolen election. Despite the curfew, however, thousands of opposition supporters continue to rally day and night on the streets and highways of Honduras.
The Honduran Committee for Families of the Detained and Disappeared said that 14 people have been killed, 51 injured and 844 detained so far during the post-election protests.
Hernandez supporters are reportedly marching today in Tegucigalpa to support their candidate.
The U.S. State Department released a statement yesterday advising U.S. citizens to delay or cancel travel to Honduras "due to ongoing political protests and the potential for violence."