Honduran Lawmakers Elect Interim Prosecutor, Opposition Cries Foul

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By LatAm Reports Editor

In Honduras, a dispute has erupted in the legislative branch as members of the ruling Libre party, aligned with President Xiomara Castro, appointed Johel Zelaya as the interim attorney general. The move, facilitated by a committee vote dominated by Libre party members, has sparked accusations from opposition lawmakers of an unconstitutional maneuver to consolidate power.

The country’s constitution requires a supermajority vote in the 128-seat unicameral congress to appoint an attorney general. However, the constitution also grants the committee the authority to appoint an interim chief prosecutor in the event of a vacancy. The Libre party justifies the appointment by citing the need to address perceived complicity in corruption by the former Attorney General Oscar Chinchilla during the tenure of Castro’s conservative predecessor, Juan Orlando Hernandez, who is currently detained in the United States facing drug trafficking charges.

This political strife comes against the backdrop of a state of emergency declared by Castro last December in a bid to combat gang violence, drawing parallels to policies implemented by Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele. This state of emergency is set to persist until at least November 17.

Despite multiple attempts, the Libre party had previously failed to secure sufficient votes to elect Zelaya. The timing of the committee vote, conducted while Congress was in recess, has further fueled controversy.

Congress President Luis Redondo stands by the election of Zelaya, noting the end of Chinchilla’s term in August and the immediate succession by his deputy, Daniel Sibrian. In contrast, opposition figures, including Tomas Zambrano of the conservative National Party, decry the interim appointment as illegitimate, suggesting it signals a slide towards dictatorship akin to the situations in Venezuela and Nicaragua.