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Honduran women’s rights group refuses to recognise new president

Amid reports of fraud and voter intimidation, Codemuh, a women's collective based in Honduras and a War on Want partner organisation, has been leading protests against the election of Porfirio Lobo Sosa, who was elected president of the country in late January.

Citing widespread voter repression, Codemuh, a leading women's grassroots organisation, has rejected the results of Honduras' recent election, its first since the June 2009 military coup. The coup, which saw the ouster of democratically elected Manuel Zelaya, was backed by the Supreme Court and the Honduran business and political elite.

As part of the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP), a coalition of civil society organisations that formed to campaign against the coup, Codemuh has been outspoken in its condemnation of Lobo. On taking power the new president's first act was to sign a decree granting amnesty to the soldiers, politicians and judges who supported the coup.

Codemuh has also expressed outrage at the new government's unwillingness to hold to account those who committed numerous human rights violations against Hondurans who took to the streets in defence of democracy. Over 40 protestors were killed and thousands of people have been beaten or thrown in jail.

Codemuh marked Honduran National Women's Day, celebrated on 25 January, by remembering two of their fallen colleagues, Wendy Avila and Olga Osiris Uclés, who died as result of tear gas fired by the police. Despite heavy police presence and strict security measures Codemuh was able to hold a march with participants shouting "no to attacks on democracy, no to attacks against women."

In a recent statement Maria Luisa Regalado, the organisation's General Coordinator, noted how the views of civil society groups like Codemuh are being ignored by the new government. "There is no institutional democracy to speak of in Honduras. Neither the president nor any politician, judge, soldier or police officer is recognised or respected by the people", says Regalado. Codemuh is calling on the international community to not recognise the new government. According to the rights group official recognition of the election results would serve to condone the many human rights violations meted out since the coup.

War on Want recently attended a meeting with Minister Glenys Kinnock, MP Colin Burgon and other NGOs to discuss ways to raise awareness of the human and labour rights violations being perpetrated by the new Honduran government.

War on Want is calling on the UK government to reject the legitimacy of the November elections and the new government. We will also continue to work in solidarity with Codemuh to fight for the rights of Honduran workers.

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