Xiomara Castro will assume the presidency of Honduras this Thursday with little celebration and in the midst of a fierce political dispute that has shaken her government from the beginning.
Congress appointed two presidents this Sunday in separate ceremonies, thus exacerbating the crisis that overshadows the start of the government of the left-wing leader, who will be the first woman in the country’s presidency this week.
The jubilation that Honduras has experienced since November 28 for the landslide victory of Xiomara Castro, wife of former president Manuel Zelaya and leader of the Libertad y Refundación (Libre, left) Party, with 1.7 million votes, has now turned into discontent , repudiation and uncertainty and the hint of outbreaks of violence.
Eighteen dissident deputies from Castro’s party, Libertad y Refundación (Libre), with the support of right-wing formations, elected Jorge Cálix as head of Congress. But the ceremony was held in a social center and not in the Legislative Palace.
In parallel, parliamentarians from Libre, loyal to Castro, appointed the deputy of the Salvador Party of Honduras (PSH), Luis Redondo, in the Congress building.
Luis Redondo was appointed president of the Honduran Congress this Sunday, in the midst of a rebellion of deputies. Photo: EFE
chaliceaccused of “traitor” for Castro, however, he promised to work for the program of the elected president, who must assume the government next Thursday.
“Our legislative agenda has as a priority to make Xiomara Castro’s government plan a reality,” assured the parliamentarian.
Cálix obtained the support of 79 legislators, including 44 votes from the National Party (PN, right), of the outgoing government, to preside over Parliament.
Agreement and controversy
Xiomara Castro had reached an agreement with the Salvador Party of Honduras (PSH) to vote for Luis Redondo, from that formation, as head of Congress, who was elected in the legislative seat with 96 votes, including alternates.
65 votes are required to achieve the leadership of Congress, half plus one of the 128 seats.
Hundreds of Libre sympathizers will gather from Saturday night in front of the Congress headquarters, summoned by Castro, in a vigil which they held until Sunday morning.
Cálix argued that his swearing-in took place in a social center because the legislative building was surrounded by hundreds of Castro supporters and he feared for his safety.
Supporters of the elected president of Honduras Xiomara Castro demonstrate at the headquarters of the National Congress, this Sunday. Photo: EFE
Banging and screaming in Parliament
The crisis broke out on Friday in a session amid blows and shouts, when Cálix was sworn in as provisional president, in disobedience to the pact between Libre and the PSH.
The 18 dissenting deputies were driven out of Free.
“I recognize the presidency of Congress headed by deputy Luis Redondo, I invite him to my swearing in with the people on January 27,” Castro wrote on Twitter.
“I congratulate the deputies who reject 12 years of JOH (current president Juan Orlando Hernández) corruption networks,” added the elected president.
Castro accuses the dissidents of his party of allying with the PN to prevent him from fulfilling the transformations he promised perform during the presidential campaign.
“A crisis of high dimensions is coming, it is in danger that Xiomara Castro will not even take office,” Eugenio Sosa, analyst and professor of Sociology at the National University, told AFP.
“There is also a danger of a new coup d’état,” he warned.
However, in his first speech, Cálix was forceful: “As long as I hold the presidency of the first power of the State, there will be no coup against the elected president.”
Regarding the legality of Cálix’s appointment, Sosa considered that the vote of dissidents outside Congress had more regular deputies, which gives it “legality.”
But “Xiomara is not going to give in. She is going to recognize Redondo, she is going to order the decrees approved by Redondo to be published in La Gaceta. The Executive is the one who orders them to be published in La Gaceta,” he explained.
Castro won the elections on November 28 by an overwhelming majority, thanks to an alliance with the PSH, in exchange for nominating its presidential candidate, Salvador Nasralla, as vice president.
The Congress was made up of 50 deputies from Libre, 44 from the PN (of current president Juan Orlando Hernández), 22 from the Liberal Party (PL, right), 10 from the PSH and two from other parties.
The author is a journalist for the AFP agency