Honduran lawmakers elect interim prosecutor amidst controversy

2023 11 01T230159Z 150414377 RC2RX2A69C4T RTRMADP 3 HONDURAS PROSECUTOR scaled
FILE PHOTO: Honduras President Xiomara Castro addresses supporters during a protest to demand the Congress' compliance with the Constitutional mandate to elect new authorities of the Public Prosecutor's Office, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras August 29, 2023. REUTERS/Fredy Rodriguez/File Photo

In a controversial move, lawmakers in Honduras have elected an interim attorney general, sparking accusations of an unconstitutional power grab by the opposition. The ruling party lawmakers, aligned with leftist President Xiomara Castro, managed to push through the appointment of Johel Zelaya as the new interim prosecutor. Despite representing a minority in the overall Congress, members of Castro’s Libre party used their majority on the committee to secure the vote.

According to the country’s constitution, 86 votes from the 128-member unicameral legislature are required to elect the attorney general. However, the committee is given the authority to appoint an interim chief prosecutor if the position is vacant. Supporters of Libre party lawmakers also claimed that former Attorney General Oscar Chinchilla had aided in covering up corruption during the previous conservative government led by President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who is currently awaiting trial in the United States for drug trafficking charges.

This is not the first time that Zelaya has been nominated for the role, with four unsuccessful attempts in the past. The committee’s vote to elect him took place during a recess of the Congress.

Luis Redondo, President of the Congress, defended the election of Zelaya, arguing that Chinchilla’s term had already ended in August. However, Daniel Sibrian, the deputy, assumed the role immediately afterwards, causing opposition leaders to denounce the move as a manipulation of the rules.

Critics have condemned the interim election as an underhanded maneuver aimed at circumventing the established procedures and consolidating power. Tomas Zambrano, leader of the conservative National Party opposition bloc, described the move as illegal and warned of the country sliding into a dictatorship like Venezuela and Nicaragua.

The sentiment of the text is negative due to the controversy and accusations of an unconstitutional power grab by the ruling party lawmakers in Honduras.

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