WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
20 Dec 2017 | News

U.S. Members of Congress, Civil Society Groups Support OAS call for New Elections in Honduras

Washington, D.C. — On December 20, 13 civil society organizations declared their support for calls by the Organization of American States (OAS) for new elections in Honduras. Secretary General Luis Almagro announced this recommendation after the OAS Electoral Observation Mission in Honduras found that the November 26 “electoral process was characterized by irregularities and deficiencies, with very low technical quality and lacking integrity.”

Another six representatives from U.S. Congress, including Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have expressed support for the OAS call for new presidential elections in Honduras. “I support the steps by OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro to defuse political tensions and strengthen the credibility of democratic processes in Honduras, including the call for a new free, fair and transparent election,” said Senator Cardin in a statement. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement, “The Honduran people deserve an electoral process that is credible and transparent, and I trust the Organization of American States’ (OAS) assessment that this process has failed to meet that standard.”

Based on the findings of the mission in Honduras and further independent analysis of the results, Almagro concluded that the “only possible way for the victor to be the people of Honduras is a new call for general elections, within the framework of the strictest respect for the rule of law, with the guarantees of [an electoral authority] that enjoys the technical capacity and confidence of both the citizens and political parties.”

In a public letter addressed to the OAS, civil society groups recognize the findings of the observation mission and thank the Secretary General for acting on those findings by calling for a new election. It states, “The technical findings of the OAS mission demonstrate the OAS’ critical role in support of the Inter-American Charter. We hope the OAS, under your leadership, will help develop the new elections and help develop a process of national dialogue when the time is right.”

The letter also calls on the OAS and other member states to urge the Honduran security forces to refrain from further violence, while alluding to the 22 Hondurans that have already lost their lives in post-election protests.

The Members of Congress who have supported the OAS recommendation for new elections include Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY), Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).