Honduras elects new president

Porfirio Lobo declared winner of Honduras election, whilst defiant Zelaya denounces result

Porfirio Lobo of the right of centre National party has been elected as president of Honduras, in elections marred by political turmoil, and of questionable legitimacy. Lobo defeated his nearest rival, Elvin Santos of the ruling Liberal party, winning 56 per cent of the vote.

The election campaigns were conducted amid curtailed civil liberties and restrictions on free press, as the de facto government clamped down on anti-coup protests.

The ousted president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, had called for a boycott of the elections, and denounced the results of the election as illegal.

Voter turnout was around 60 per cent, but ranged from 70 per cent in wealthy areas to as low as 30 per cent in poorer areas. This reflects the deeply divided mood of the people in Honduras, with the wealthy standing to gain more from the legitimisation of the coup regime, which recognition of this election will bring.

Some in poorer areas expressed dismay at the electoral process, venting frustration that voting would change nothing, whilst others, fed up with months of sanctions, economic decline and political uncertainty, have voted in the hope that the election will restore stability in the country.

The concern is, however, that international recognition of the results of yesterday's election will send a signal across the region that once again, military-backed coups by right-wing forces could be tolerated, or even supported, by the United States and others. The US has changed its position and is now set to acknowledge the results, and others, including the European Union, are expected to follow suit.

Lobo has suggested that he will drop criminal charges against Zelaya once he is sworn in on 27 January. Zelaya, meanwhile, remains in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, where he has taken refuge since returning to the country on 21 September.


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