Honduras demos overshadow Hernandez inauguration

The leftist Alliance in Opposition against the Dictatorship has called for street protests during the inauguration in Tegucigalpa

TEGUCIGALPA: Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez was set to be sworn in for a second term on Saturday as the opposition vowed mass protests over claims he fraudulently won November elections.

The leftist Alliance in Opposition against the Dictatorship has called for street protests during the inauguration in Tegucigalpa.

Thousands of extra police and troops have been drafted in to the capital of the Central American country to ensure security for the event, scheduled to begin around 1500 GMT.

The opposition alliance accuses 49-year-old Hernandez of putting in place a “military dictatorship” and said the election was stolen from its candidate, former TV anchor Salvador Nasralla.

On the eve of the inauguration, it emerged that Hernandez’s newly appointed police chief, Jose David Aguilar Moran, would be investigated by a government commission after reports that he had helped a drug cartel ship a consignment of cocaine to the United States.

Dozens of people have been killed and hundreds jailed since Hernandez was declared the winner of the November 26 run-off election. The result was announced after a three-week stretch of often-interrupted ballot counting that stoked tensions and sparked accusations of fraud.

In the latest protest, around 1,000 women took to the streets of the capital on Thursday, many carrying crosses with the names of those killed protesting the election result, and calling for Nasralla’s “victory” to be recognised.

“In Honduras there is a political crisis that organisations such as the OAS and the United States do not measure with the same yardstick as they measure Venezuela. The Honduran government is showing signs of dictatorship,” said political scientist Juan Ramon Medrano.

“There is a strong and fairly organised opposition that continues on the streets and that can lead Honduras to a kind of civil war.”

Market analyst group Eurasia said the demonstrations “will likely diminish after Hernandez’s inauguration.”

“Still, Hernandez will begin his second term in a much weaker position given the social component, with his legitimacy in question,” it said in a note ahead of the inauguration.

The Organisation of American States had proposed holding new elections after its observer mission expressed doubts about the outcome.

However, the OAS recently said it intended to “work in the future with the elected authorities of Honduras.”

Guatemalan political scientist Renso Rosal told AFP the political crisis in Honduras could have wider repercussions for the region.

He said the central spark for the crisis was Hernandez’s “unconstitutional action in seeking reelection.”

Hernandez stood for re-election against Nasralla despite a constitutional ban on presidents serving more than one term.

The president has implicit backing from the United States, which is pouring millions of dollars into Honduras and neighbouring Guatemala and El Salvador to help improve security.

The three countries, collectively known as Central America’s “Northern Triangle,” are the biggest source of undocumented migrants heading to the United States, and also key in the fight against drug trafficking.

The head of the Honduran government commission, Omar Rivera, told reporters the police chief and two subordinates would undergo a “re-evaluation process” in the wake of the news reports alleging their involvement in aiding the drugs shipment in 2013.


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