Honduras tense as voters head to the polls
Today's presidential election is widely viewed in Honduras as a way out of Latin America's worst political crisis in decades.
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Many residents expect calm, too. Dominga Lopez, a house cleaner in the capital, attended the final rally of Mr. Lobo earlier in the week. She says she will vote for Lobo because he supports senior citizens' rights and hails from a different party than that of Zelaya, who she accuses of seeking dictatorial powers. "We'll elect a good government, one that represents everybody."Skip to next paragraph
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Pelix Lopez, a farm worker also at the Lobo rally, says he expects a big turnout for this year's race, pointing to thousands at the rally. "They came here because they're not afraid," Mr. Lopez says.
But in some pockets of the capital the mood was tense. Amnesty International expressed concerns on Friday that the government may resort to excessive force to quell any perceived disturbances during polls. Human rights groups have decried violations, including arbitrary detainments and several deaths during street protests over the past five months.
Raul Mendoza, a Tegucigalpa resident, says he believes a strong police and military presence will deter any major violence, but tensions in the past five months could spark an accident. The Organization of American States (OAS) is not sending observers this year.
"I'll be scared when I go [to vote], but I'll go," Mr. Mendoza says.
Mr. Archaga said 5,000 reserve soldiers called to monitor elections will go back to their normal duties once all ballots have been cast and the final results made official. But stability seems far off, even after a winner is announced.
US to recognize the vote
The US, which helped mediate a deal that eventually broke down between Micheletti and Zelaya, has indicated that it will recognize the vote, backing down from an earlier demand that Zelaya must be restored if elections are to be recognized.
Now Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, who drew up the original deal, joined that position "If the elections are transparent, there are no accusations of fraud, the observers find there was nothing incorrect, I am going to ask Ibero-American countries to recognize the future Honduran government," the leader said in a statement.
But other countries in the region refuse to budge, including Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela. Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said Thursday, according to Reuters, that recognition of elections would legitimate a coup.