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Honduras holds new election

Is the fresh election a military farce or restoration of democracy?

Support for Zelaya also appears to be waning inside Honduras.

Elvin Santos, a member of Zelaya’s Liberal Party is running in the presidential race and has gained the backing of several mayors who had previously supported the ousted leader.
Cesar Ham, a leftist who severely condemned the coup, is also on the ballot backed by some from the anti-regime camp.

This division on the left has made the candidate of the conservative Honduran National Party Porfiriro “Pepe” Lobo the favorite to win.

Lobo promises a conciliatory unity government if he does claim victory in Sunday’s race, saying the nation has to move on from the coup.

“This battle over the coup is a fight among politicians that has hurt Honduras,” he told a news conference. “Most Honduran people are more concerned about not having jobs and the streets being so dangerous.”

Another sign of slipping support for Zelaya is the weakening of street protests.

In the first weeks following the coup, tens of thousands came out to back the ousted president and even tried to take hold of the airport so that Zelaya could fly back into the country to resume power.

However, in the days before the election only a few hundred protesters were seen chanting support for the leader outside the congress building.

But while the streets are free from the police and protester clashes of the summer, many Hondurans say they are still worried about their safety when going to vote.

“I don’t know what might happen. I prefer to stay at home to make sure my family is OK,” said Wilma Garcia, a housewife from the capital.

Fueling such fears, dozens of small homemade bombs have been detonated over the weeks leading to the election in public places and government buildings.

The government blames the devices — which have caused no deaths and few injuries — on the pro-Zelaya resistance. However, Zelaya, who has always advocated peaceful protest, denies any connection saying they could be part of a dirty war by the coup leaders.

All sides say that the voter turnout will be crucial in showing how legitimate the elections will be.

While Zelaya vowed there would be the most abstentions in Honduran history, the leading candidate Lobo promised a high turnout.

“I guarantee there will be more votes than in the last election,” he said with his trademark grin from ear to ear, “and I am sure there will be a better turnout than most elections in the United States.”