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Fears of a political coup in Honduras

HONDURAS has been thrown into political chaos after the election of parallel directive boards headed by two opposing sections of Congress ahead of Xiomara Castro’s inauguration. 

Luis Redondo was sworn in as president of the Honduran legislature as thousands of supporters gathered at the National Congress building in Tegucigalpa on Sunday. 

But a second candidate, Jorge Calix, who is backed by the right-wing National Party of former president Juan Orlando Hernandez, was also sworn in at a second ceremony in Bosques de Zambrano.

Ms Castro, who will become Honduras’s first ever female president when she takes up the post on Thursday, said that she recognises Mr Redondo as the legitimate candidate and invited him to her inauguration ceremony

“I congratulate the deputies who reject 12 years of JOH [Mr Hernandez] corruption networks … we won,” she said soon after Mr Redondo was sworn in. 

The crisis came after the head of the Salvation Party of Honduras, Salvador Nasralla, demanded that she select him as her running mate for the presidency back in October as part of an pact with two other minority parties.

She agreed, but a number of lawmakers from her Freedom and Refoundation party rebelled against Mr Redondo’s candidacy for president of the legislature and supported Mr Calix.

He insisted that he would back the policies of Ms Castro, but his main bulk of support comes from conservative forces allied to Mr Hernandez, who has been accused of involvement in drug smuggling by US federal prosecutors.

The move threatens to hand control of the Honduran parliament back to the National and Liberal parties which have controlled the presidency for decades until the election of Ms Castro.

It also places her alliance with the Salvation Party of Mr Nasralla at risk of collapse, with accusations that the dissident lawmakers are pursuing their own self-interests.

Ms Castro announced the expulsion of 18 legislators from her party. 

“These traitors — who are singing like mermaids and say they are defending the will of the people — that’s a lie. It isn’t true,” she said.

Fears of a political coup have grown as the National Party asked them to join, which would hand them a congress majority.

Ms Castro’s party holds 50 of the 128 seats in the Honduran parliament, which means that it needs the support of other parties to pass legislation.

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