World News

Honduran president sworn into office for 2nd term; foes dispute vote results

Posted January 27, 2018 1:43 p.m. EST

— Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández was sworn in for a second term on Saturday in the country's capital, Tegucigalpa, as protestors outside the inauguration ceremony challenged the legitimacy of his election.

The ceremony at the Tiburcio Carias Andino national stadium took place under heavy security, and police in riot gear outside the stadium used tear gas to control protestors.

Hernandez's re-election prompted days of unrest and protests that turned deadly on several occasions, forcing the government to impose a nightly curfew in December.

The administration of Hernández has also been dogged by allegations of corruption and drug trafficking.

In his inauguration speech, Hernandez said he was "ready to listen to any proposal without barriers because that is what dialogue is about, which will lead us to reconciliation and the healing of the Honduran people."

His new term will run through 2022.

The contested November 26 vote was marred by irregularities, with the vote count being abruptly halted while the opposition was ahead. Both the Organization of American States and the European Union found irregularities that they said called the results into question.

The OAS observation mission to Honduras found several different issues with the electoral process, including "deliberate human intrusions in the computer system, intentional elimination of digital traces" and "pouches of votes open or lacking votes."

The Honduran electoral commission, which is controlled by supporters of Hernández, said he won the election by a margin of about 50,000 votes.

Opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla, a prominent TV star, had accused Hernandez of manipulating the election results.

On Jan. 19, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Liz Throssell, said that "between 29 November and 22 December, at least 22 people were killed in the context of post-electoral protests -- among them 21 civilians and one police officer."

She added that the UN had "verified information that 13 of these deaths were at the hands of the security forces."

Opposition parties in Honduras criticized the failure of the US to denounce the controversial declaration of Hernández as winner of the election

Manuel Zelaya Rosales, a former president, condemned the US State Department response, saying it "validates the crime of electoral fraud."

"Lets hold the military and police to account for the murders and the brutal use of violence against our brave people who defend the vote for Alianza and the victory of Salvador Nasralla," he said. He called for an immediate investigation into the murders of "at least 24 compatriots."

The US has a large military base in Honduras, which has led to accusations that both the current and previous US administrations are turning a blind eye to political violence and corruption in the country.