WASHINGTON – The Trump administration acknowledged on Friday the results of Honduras' controversial presidential election despite complaints from the opposition, irregularities found by election observers and the requests of the Congress to support a new vote.  The State Department congratulated Juan Orlando Hernández for his victory in last month's elections, but urged the country's electoral commission to fully review any challenge to the results. In a statement, spokeswoman Heather Nauert also urged all parties to refrain from violence in the midst of riots that have claimed at least 17 lives. He also called on security forces to respect the rights of peaceful protesters.
Hernandez was declared the winner, but opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla claimed fraud and came to Washington earlier this week to seek the support of the United States and the Organization of American States. The electoral observers of the OAS and the European Union found irregularities that questioned the result.
"The results of the elections, the irregularities identified by the OAS and the electoral observation missions of the EU and the strong reactions of Hondurans across the political spectrum underscore the need for a solid national dialogue," Nauert said. "A significant long-term effort must be made to heal the political division in the country and enact the much-needed electoral reforms."
"We call on the (electoral tribunal) to review in a transparent and complete manner any challenge presented by the political parties," she said. "We urge Honduran citizens or political parties to contest the outcome of using the channels provided by Honduran law," reiterated the call for all Hondurans to abstain from violence, and the government must guarantee that Honduran security services respect the rights of Hondurans. of the peaceful protesters, even assuring the responsibility for any violation of those rights. "
The first results reported by the electoral tribunal after the November 26 elections showed Nasralla with a significant advantage Hernandez with almost 60 percent of the votes counted. Public updates of the count mysteriously stopped for more than a day, and when they resumed, that advantage eroded constantly and finally reversed in Hernandez's favor.
On Thursday, a group of 20 Democratic lawmakers asked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for support for a rerun of the elections, citing irregularities found by observers. They also asked Tillerson to denounce what they consider "excessive use of force" by the Honduran security forces that handle the street protests since
. The Honduran police has confirmed 17 deaths, but the opposition and the Committee of Detained and Disappeared, a nongovernmental organization, said at least 24 people died in the three weeks of unrest. The demonstrations continued on Friday, with protesters throwing stones at the armed police using tear gas.
Nasralla told a press conference in the Honduran capital that he would continue the fight by presenting new demands before the Honduran electoral tribunal to annul the vote and hold new elections.
"It is clear that the United States imposes Hernández because the left governments terrorize them," said Nasralla. "With its weight in international relations, the United States opts to legitimize a regime rejected by its people."
He added that although he presented himself as a candidate of a leftist opposition alliance, he is a man without a party and will stand firm. for all Hondurans.
Washington's recognition of the results of the elections came after the congratulations sent by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico to Hernández on Tuesday. Canada and Panama also recognized Hernandez as president on Friday.
But countries like El Salvador and Brazil have slowed down.
The Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday that since the electoral vote was questioned by opposition parties, it would not decide whether to recognize the results until after the Supreme Electoral Court rules on those challenges.
Two leftist leaders of the region, presidents Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia, meanwhile, have criticized the alleged electoral fraud.
The OAS said on Friday that its team of electoral observers had reported "a series of irregularities and serious deficiencies that surely affected the election results." While the OAS General Secretariat said it would not comment on the government's individual decisions to recognize Hernandez's victory, he said he was unaware of the observers' reports "set a dangerous precedent in the face of the many elections that will be held in 2018."  ___
The writers of the Associated Press Freddy Cuevas in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Christopher Sherman in Mexico City, Marcos Aleman in San Salvador, El Salvador, Stan Lehman in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Fabiola Sánchez in Caracas, Venezuela and Carlos Valdez in La Paz, Bolivia, contributed to this report.
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