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Honduran Opposition Not Giving Up on Presidential-Reelection Ban

By: Elena Toledo - @NenaToledo - Apr 28, 2015, 1:01 pm

EspañolHonduras faces a complex political scenario, after the Supreme Court on Thursday, April 23, repealed two articles of the Constitution which banned presidential reelection — the issue at the heart of the 2009 coup that ousted former President Manuel Zelaya. Opposition groups have called the move to allow former presidents to once again run for the highest office in the country an “abuse of power.”

The Court published its ruling on Friday, however Congressman Aníbal Calix of the opposition Anti-Corruption Party (PAC) says the full scope of the Court’s decision is still unknown, since other articles within the Constitution that contradict its ruling are still in effect.

Indefinite Reelection?

“As of right now, Article 4 of Constitution still stands, and there alternation [of power] is specified,” Calix told the PanAm Post. The congressman explained that the article states alternation “is mandatory” and that the “the infringement of this standard constitutes treason.”

“Unfortunately, there is no rule of law in our country, and no one knows for sure how this will end. It boils down to our past, current, and future lack of judicial certainty, and we reaffirm that we are against all of these kinds of decisions,” Calix added.

Congressman Tomás Zambrano from the ruling National Party expressed his concern that if Congress does not take measures to limit reelection, it could currently be interpreted as “continuous,” and therefore indefinite, because the Constitution does not specify reelection must also alternate.

“Congress will eventually have to stipulate in the Constitution how many terms a president can be reelected for, among other issues,” he said.

Impeachment on the Table

Calix believes it is still possible to reverse the Supreme Court’s decision. “There’s always the option of impeaching the people involved in this ruling,” he says. “Our party, along with the opposition block, is considering it; we hope to have answers for the people this week, when we resume our session.”

Congressman Luis Redondo, also of the PAC party, expressed further optimism for overturning reelection. “When the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) orders Honduras to reinstate the Supreme Court judges ousted [in 2012], everything the current judges have ruled on will become invalid, and then goodbye reelection,” Redondo told the PanAm Post.

“Something published in the Official Gazette doesn’t necessarily mean it’s law. What happened is that employees at the Gazette have joined those who betrayed the nation,” he added.

Redondo says “corruption has been legalized” and is unsure as to President Juan Orlando Hernández’s next steps. “In 2009, there was a coup against the executive; in 2012, one against the judiciary; and today, we’re facing one against the legislature. Congress no longer rules,” he said.

As to why the Honduran Armed Forces did not react, Redondo says they are being “blackmailed on pending matters. That’s the reality in Honduras these days.”

Civil Society Protests

Activists gathered in San Pedro Sula on Sunday to protest against the Supreme Court's decision to legalize presidential reelection.
Activists gathered in San Pedro Sula on Sunday to protest against the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize presidential reelection. (PanAm Post)

On Sunday, April 26, some 200 protesters took to the streets of San Pedro Sula to demonstrate against the Supreme Court’s decision on reelection.

With signs and chants, they marched through one of the main avenues of the Honduran “industrial capital.”

“We organized ourselves, spread the word, and just came here,” Edwin Paz told the PanAm Post. “We’re from different political parties: activists, congressmen, and common citizens who are protecting the Constitution, the rule of law.”

“If we let this abuse on the Constitution pass, then everything that happened in 2009 will have been in vain,” he added.

Before leaving the demonstration, the activist described Honduras as a country in a state of “illegality,” and urged the “common people” and the Honduran Army to “protect the Constitution.”

Opposition groups have signaled plans to stage further protests in the nation’s major cities on May 1, during International Workers’ Day celebrations, with followup demonstrations in the capital city of Tegucigalpa on May 2.

Translated by Daniel Duarte. Edited by Guillermo Jimenez.

Elena Toledo Elena Toledo

Educator by trade, social-media apprentice, activist for a democratic Honduras, and free thinker. Follow her on Twitter @NenaToledo.