TEGUCIGALPA – The Honduran government announced Thursday that the nationwide state of emergency proclaimed Dec. 1 amid post-election protests has been lifted in half of the country’s 18 provinces.
Effective Wednesday night, the curfew was suspended in the provinces of Choluteca, Valle, El Paraiso, Ocotepeque, Copan, Lempira, Intibuca and Santa Barbara, the Security Ministry said in a statement.
The state of emergency was previously lifted in the offshore province of Islas de la Bahia.
Provinces where the special measures remain in effect include Francisco Morazan – where Tegucigalpa is located – and Cortes, whose capital is San Pedro Sula, the country’s second city.
Residents of a number of Honduran cities have defied the state of emergency by continuing to mount protests over what they see as fraud in the Nov. 26 presidential election.
Electoral authorities say that rightist incumbent Juan Orlando Hernandez defeated main challenger Salvador Nasralla by 42.98 percent to 41.38 percent.
Refusing to accept the result, Nasralla and the coalition he leads, the center-left Alliance in Opposition to the Dictatorship, accuse election officials of manipulating the process to ensure a Hernandez victory.
The head of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, said Wednesday that the OAS election observer mission in Honduras has not ruled out requesting a re-do of the balloting if doubts about the outcome could not be resolved.
Hernandez’s re-election bid was controversial from the start, as the Honduran Constitution limits the president to one term.
His candidacy was permitted on the basis of a May 2015 ruling by five Supreme Court judges who owed their appointments to Hernandez.
In 2009, the Honduran military ousted left-leaning President Mel Zelaya based on accusations that his call for a non-binding referendum on constitutional reform was a gambit aimed at allowing him to seek re-election.