Juan Orlando Hernandez sworn in as Honduran President for second term amid protests

Tegucigalpa: President Juan Orlando Hernandez has been sworn in for a new term in the Honduran capital, while across town tear gas drifted across flaming barricades in clashes between police and protesters angry over an election the say was marred by fraud.

 Juan Orlando Hernandez sworn in as Honduran President for second term amid protests

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez takes the oath of office at the National Stadium in Tegucigalpa, Honduras on 27 January, 2018. AP

The head of Congress on Saturday put the blue-and-white sash of office on Hernandez in the morning ceremony in Tegucigalpa, and the president promised in an address "to begin a process of reconciliation to unite the Honduran family." The inauguration came after soldiers and riot police fired tear gas to block thousands of demonstrators from marching to the National Stadium to protest. Masked protesters shot rocks from slingshots and kicked canisters back toward security forces as barricades burned and gas billowed on the streets.

"This is how the dictator oppresses his people," said opposition presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla, who says the election was stolen and he was the true winner of the vote. "We remain in the struggle to rescue the country from dictatorship and without recognising Hernandez as president," Nasralla told The Associated Press.

Hernandez, a 49-year-old lawyer, is Honduras' first president to be re-elected, a key point in the protests against him. The 1982 constitution bars presidents from seeking a new term and conservative politicians deposed a leftist president in 2009 for allegedly even considering re-election. But Hernandez won a Supreme Court ruling in 2015 to get around that prohibition.

Early, pre-dawn returns the morning after the 26 November election showed Nasralla with a significant lead with 57 percent of the votes counted. Then election authorities all but stopped giving public updates on the count. Following days of delays and computer problems, the trend reversed itself, and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal reported that Hernandez had an edge of about 1.5 per cent in the final count.

The ensuing political crisis has wracked the Central American nation, with at least 31 people killed in the unrest, according to the National Human Rights Commission. Opposition leaders put the toll at 41.

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Updated Date: Jan 28, 2018 11:08:59 IST