Honduras heads to the polls

With some cautiously optimistic that an end to the crisis that has plagued the country for nearly five months is imminent and others fearful of terrorist acts threatened by the Resistencia, one thing is certain – the Honduran population awaits this Sunday’s general elections like none previous.

Supporters of Zelaya continue to demand his reinstatement and have been posting fear propaganda in cities and towns urging the population to boycott what they call “fraudulent” elections.   The front pages of today’s major newspapers exhibited an arsenal of heavy weaponry seized by police in the city of El Progreso and belonging to a terrorist group planning on destroying what is left of that city’s “Democracy Bridge,” among other targets, on Election Day.  Only half of the bridge was left standing after the earthquake of May 28.

Meanwhile, the country prepares as usual for the upcoming civic event.  Armed soldiers distribute truckloads of ballot boxes throughout the country while candidates hold rallies and hand out fliers encouraging citizens to vote for them.  The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) is urging citizens to do their part to restore the world’s faith in Honduras’ democratic process by voting on Sunday.  The National Registry of Persons (RNP) reports a three-fold increase in cedula (the national identity card presented in order to vote) requests in the past few weeks, with young people making up a majority of the applicants. The TSE expects a voter turnout ranging from 57 to 68%.  In the last general election there was roughly a 50% voter turnout and Mel Zelaya won by a small margin.

Opinions in the international community are mixed.  Several countries, among them Mexico, Venezuela and Brazil, have warned that they will not recognize the winners of an election carried out by the de facto regime.  Others, namely the United States and Panama, have said that they will because both Micheletti and Zelaya signed the San Jose – Tegucigalpa accord, which did not require Zelaya’s reinstatement.  Still others, such as El Salvador, have not decided yet where they stand.

A delegation of twenty reporters and human rights defenders from the United States and Canada will be present to observe the electoral process in various cities and towns throughout the country in order to prevent possible human rights violations by police and military personnel.  Panama has also pledged to send election observers.

The right to bear arms has already been temporarily suspended in order to prevent violence in the days leading up to the elections and alcohol sales will be strictly prohibited from six a.m. on Saturday to six p.m. on Sunday.

By Sophia Anderson

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