HONDURAN police went on strike yesterday, refusing to suppress protests against ballot-rigging in last week’s election.
Opposition presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla, who insists the election was stolen from him, urged the army to follow suit.
The national police, including the feared Cobra commandos, announced the strike on Monday in the capital Tegucigalpa.
Hours earlier, electoral tribunal chief David Matamoros announced that incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez had effectively won the November 26 election, reversing an early five-point lead for Mr Nasrallah in a vote count delayed by a week.
In a statement read out by a spokesman on the UNE TV network, the force said: “We can not become violators of human rights.
“If we do, sooner or later we will pay the debt,” the spokesman said. “We are already paying for the violations committed by our superiors in the past” — a possible reference to the 2009 US-supported coup against president Manuel Zelaya, Mr Nasralla’s ally.
The eight-point declaration said: “Our people are sovereign and we have a duty to them, therefore we cannot confront them and suppress their rights.”
It urged “intermediate officers to take control of our institution due to the ineffectiveness of our superiors who have done little or nothing to solve this problem of the state.”
Added to their grievances was Security Minister Julian Pachecho’s announced pay rise for office-based auxiliaries but not officers on the beat.
Mr Nasralla, who has led mass protests against the alleged electoral fraud, welcomed the strike. “I call on the troops to follow the example of the police,” he said.
The Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship candidate alleged that Mr Hernandez had “paid certain unscrupulous soldiers” to neglect their duty to “maintain peace, the rule of the constitution, the principles of a free vote” and the transfer of power.
Mr Hernandez has previously been accused of taking money from drug barons to fund his election campaign.
Mr Nasralla said he was ready for dialogue but warned that the people’s demands for democracy must be met.
“I want to end the crisis, but I represent a people who find themselves oppressed, who want justice to be done,” he said.
“This process is not over. Juan Orlando Hernandez is not the president.”
BLOB: A demonstration in solidarity with the Honduran people against the “true fraud and coup d’etat” was called yesterday outside the Honduran embassy in the Venezuelan capital Caracas.
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