Despite fraud allegations and calls by international observers for fresh elections, Mexico recognized right-wing Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez as the winner of last month’s election, on Tuesday.
"Mexico respectfully calls for the democratic institutions, the political forces and the people of Honduras, in a mark of respect and agreement, to definitively conclude this electoral process," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
The news comes just days after the Organization of American States (OAS) called for a fresh vote to dispel widespread allegations of fraud. Luis Almagro, the General Secretariat of the OAS, said Sunday the election was plagued with irregularities and should be redone to meet democratic standards.
The statement by Mexico, an important player in Central America, strengthened the position of Hernandez, who declared himself president-elect. It could pave the way for more countries, including the United States, to weigh-in in the incumbent's favor.
Two sources informed Reuters that Mexico’s announcement was brokered in coordination with the United States. The presidents of Guatemala and Colombia already recognized Hernandez, a staunch U.S. ally.
It is likely to anger the center-left opposition, led by journalist-turn-presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla, who has accused Hernandez of stealing the election, sparking violent nationwide protests.
Former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, who was removed in a U.S.-backed coup in 2009, has been a key actor in both supporting Nasralla, and mobilizing protesters to continue street actions.
Earlier Tuesday Nasralla’s opposition alliance said the group would file a legal challenge to annul the official results announced by the election authorities handing victory to the sitting president.
Aside from the fact that it took almost a month for the Supreme Electoral Tribunal to announce the results of last month’s election, the opposition's main concern about the results came after Hernandez began to pull ahead after an hours-long technical problem caused the TSE system to "go down".
When the system came back the sitting president steadily began to overcome Nasralla’s original five percent lead with over half of ballots counted, which experts had said would be irreversible.
According to Honduran election law, the opposition alliance has a period of 10 days to file appeals against the results.