Political crisis in Honduras: Congress splits in two on eve of Castro's inauguration

A vote on two separate directives in parliament pits the president-elect against dissidents in her party, who say the election of Jorge Cálix was held in violation of parliamentary rules

REUTERS/FREDY RODRIGUEZ  -   Honduran President-elect Xiomara Castro gives a speech to her supporters during a vigil in front of the Honduran congress in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, 22 January 2022

The Honduran political landscape has been altered in recent hours, triggering a political crisis after Congress decided to appoint two presidents of parliament in separate acts. 

Eighteen deputies of the elected president, Xiomara Castro, broke the pact they had reached with the Salvador Party of Honduras, in which it was envisaged that Luis Redondo would be appointed president of Congress. This sudden change of heart by some deputies of the Libertad y Refundación party, together with the support of right-wing groups, led to the election of Jorge Calix as the new president of the legislative body at an event on the outskirts of the city, in a social club.

AP/ELMER MARTINEZ - Supporters of Honduran President-elect Xiomara Castro gather inside the Congress building in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022.

During the previous days, relations between Castro's party deputies were tense, the group of dissenting deputies decided not to attend the meeting called by their party leader, to ask for a consensus vote for Luis Redondo as part of the agreements with Salvador Nasralla's allied party, who will occupy the post of vice-president.

In the official act in the Congress building, MPs loyal to Xiomara Castro nominated, together with the rest of the parties in the chamber, Luis Redondo with 96 votes in favour, including the substitutes. However, at the social club meeting, Jorge Calix obtained the support of 79 MPs (incumbents), including 44 votes from the National Party, to preside over Parliament.

AFP/ORLANDO SIERRA -  Libertad y Refundación (LIBRE) party legislators Rasel Thome and Luis Redondo speak to the media after dissident legislators from their party proposed Jorge Calix as interim president.

After these two incompatible appointments, Xiomara Castro recognised Luis Redondo as president of Congress, with the majority support of deputies and alternates. "I recognise the presidency of Congress headed by Deputy Luis Redondo, and I invite him to my swearing in together with the people on 27 January. I congratulate the deputies who reject 12 years of corruption networks of "Joh" (Juan Orlando Hernández): on my way to greet them in the CN (National Congress) We won!", Castro posted on her Twitter account.

Uncertainty in Honduras

Regarding the 18 parliamentarians of the Libertad y Refundación party, Castro announced their immediate expulsion from the party, including Jorge Calix, and accused them of being linked to outgoing president Juan Orlando Hernández. "The betrayal was consummated," Xiomara Castro wrote in a message on Twitter after learning what had happened.

AFP/ORLANDO SIERRA - Libertad y Refundacion (LIBRE) deputy Rassel Tome (L) attempts to attack deputy Jorge Calix (2-R) after his election as president of the Provisional Board of Directors of the National Congress.

The elections of 28 November 2021 gave a wide victory to candidate Xiomara Castro, following her alliance with the PSH, with which she agreed to appoint Salvador Nasralla as vice-president and to support Luis Redondo as president of Congress. After the elections, the Congress was made up of 50 deputies from the Libre party, 44 from the PN, 22 from the Liberal Party, 10 from the PSH and two from other parties.
With the emergence of this political crisis, uncertainty has increased in the country on the eve of Castro's official inauguration ceremony, scheduled for Thursday 27 January, the day on which she will take office as the new president of Honduras, the first woman to do so and positioning a left-wing party at the head of the country after twelve years out of government. Her term in office has several pending issues, such as drug trafficking, the high levels of poverty in the country and the corruption that has become established in the institutions.

Latin America Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra