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Honduras Demonstrations

Protests erupt in Honduras as president is sworn in for a second term



Violent clashes erupted in Honduras as President Juan Orlando Hernandez was sworn in for his second term.

Honduras JOH Inauguration
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez takes the oath of office. Hernandez has been sworn in for a second term amid protests against the November election that was marred by irregularities and allegations of fraud.

Not far from his inaugural ceremony in the capital of Tegucigalpa on Saturday, police fired tear gas at protesters opposing the outcome of the disputed election.

"What president in the world goes around hiding on the day of his swearing in if he was theoretically elected by a majority? None, and that means he is an illegal president."
Salvador Nasralla, Opposition Leader
Honduras Inauguration
Soldiers and police launch tear gas at demonstrators marching to the National Stadium to protest the presidential inauguration of Juan Orlando Hernandez, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

November’s election was marred by allegations of voter fraud. Opposition leader and TV personality Salvador Nasralla was seen as the likely victor over incumbent president Hernandez.

With a prolonged delay in election results, both candidates announced themselves the winner. But after a halt in the vote count, which the Honduran electoral commission (TSE) attributed to computer malfunctions, Nasralla’s substantial lead after early tallies suddenly switched, and a day later Hernandez seemed poised to win.

"I recognize that changes to the electoral system must be profound....We are prepared to listen to any offer, without barriers, because we need dialogue to take us towards reconciliation and the healing of the Honduran family."
Juan Orlando Hernandez, President of Honduras

Continuing uncertainty over the official results led to violence across the country.

APTOPIX Honduras Elections
A supporter of Libre Alliance presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla is injured during clashes with security forces guarding the institute where election ballots are stored in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Protests were intense last week as incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez emerged with a growing lead for re-election following a reported computer glitch that shut down vote counting for several hours.

The Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) said the election process was of “poor quality,” and cited “irregularities” in the election, “before, during and after” votes were tallied. As opposition supporters demanded a completely new election, a partial recount was instead conducted.

Honduras Elections
Election workers look at a ballot during a partial recount.

The TSE, controlled by Hernandez’s National Party, eventually announced that Hernandez had won by 50,000 votes.

"The entire world, the entire world should find out that here in Honduras the people are protesting because they are swearing in a president who lost the elections."
Manuel Zelaya, Former President of Honduras

Hernandez’s ability to run for re-election would have been impossible only years ago.

The 1982 constitution forbids presidents from serving more than one term in office. In 2009, then-president Manuel Zelaya was ousted for allegedly seeking a second term. But in 2015, Hernandez had the ban on re-elections lifted, with the help of five handpicked allies he placed on the Supreme Court.

Honduras Demonstrations
Demonstrators march near the National Stadium during the swearing-in ceremony of President Juan Orlando Hernandez in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018. Violence and protests in response to Hernandez's election and inauguration have claimed the lives of at least 31 people, according to the National Human Rights Commission.

According to the National Human Rights Commission, at least 31 people have been killed, many of them by security forces, since the turmoil over the election began.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Read more about the Honduran presidential elections.

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