U.S. Backs Re-Election of Honduran President



The U.S. government backed the re-election of Honduran President

Juan Orlando Hernández

on Friday, despite objections from the Organization of American States, which had called for a new election after its election observers had found widespread irregularities.

Honduras, one of the poorest and most violent nations in Latin America, has been racked by political unrest and violent protests since the vote was held on Nov. 26. At least 17 people have died in the post-electoral violence.

In a statement, State Department spokeswoman

Heather Nauert

called for a strong effort to enact electoral reform to “heal the political divide.”

The conservative Mr. Hernández, a strong ally of the U.S., beat a leftist coalition led by Salvador Nasralla, a former sportscaster. Mr. Marsala lost by some 50,000 votes, or a 1.5% difference, in a poll that OAS observers said had been so marred by irregularities that it was impossible to declare a victor.

On Sunday, shortly after Honduran electoral authorities declared Mr. Hernandez the winner, OAS head

Luis Almagro

called for a new election.

The hemisphere’s leading regional body and the European Union had sent a large observation mission to monitor the poll. The call for new elections was rejected by the Honduran government.

“The close election results, irregularities identified by the OAS and the EU election observation missions, and strong reactions from Hondurans across the political spectrum underscore the need for a robust national dialogue,” Ms. Nauert’s statement said.

Mr. Hernández’ victory had already been recognized by a handful of governments including Mexico, Guatemala, Spain and Colombia. The backing from the U.S. government would likely clear the way for other countries to recognize the contested election.

Honduras was one of only nine countries to vote Thursday in the United Nations in favor of the U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem, a move condemned by a vast majority of member countries, including key U.S. allies.

One hundred twenty eight countries voted for a resolution demanding the U.S. rescind its controversial decision, bucking U.S. threats to cut foreign aid. Another 35 countries abstained.

The U.S. decision to recognize Mr. Hernández’ win is a blow to the OAS, whose election observers play an important role in monitoring elections in the region. Mr. Almagro has taken a strong role in criticizing alleged electoral irregularities in Venezuela, which will hold a presidential election in 2018.

Write to José de Córdoba at jose.decordoba@wsj.com



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