Honduran President Begins Second Term Amid Angry Protests

Juan Orlando Hernandez was sworn in as president of Honduras for a second term Saturday amid protests that he fraudulently won the November election.

 

Hernandez took the oath at a special session of Congress at the National Stadium, with the bleachers packed with his supporters.

At the event, in which he vowed to “comply with and enforce the Constitution and law,” the 49-year-old Hernandez said he was “committed to developing a process of reconciliation among all Hondurans.”

Hernandez takes over as president of the impoverished Central American country of nine million with diminished legitimacy due to the controversial election.

Supporters of defeated opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla accuse him of setting up a “military dictatorship,” and insist that the election was stolen.

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

He narrowly won after a three-week stretch of often-interrupted ballot counting that stoked tensions and sparked accusations of fraud.

The leftist opposition staged protests that shook the country throughout the week, culminating in a mass rally in Tegucigalpa late Friday.

On Saturday, however, protesters could get only within 500 meters of the inauguration event.

The stadium was protected by several rings soldiers and police, who were pressed into duty from around the country.

In the capital’s Miraflores neighbourhood, protesters hurled rocks at a bus full of Hernandez supporters.

“The protests do not end today, this will be permanent,” Nasralla told reporters, as he called for new elections.

Police later deployed armoured vehicles and fired tear gas at rock-throwing protesters.

Dozens of people have been killed and hundreds jailed since Hernandez was declared the winner of the November 26 run-off election.

 

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