Honduran court ruling on reelection questioned
Perhaps if the constitutional ban on reelection in Honduras hadn't been the excuse for a presidential coup only six years ago, the decision of a Supreme Court panel (of judges appointed by the sitting president) wouldn't be such a big deal.
But the specter of reelection -- allegedly hidden in then-President Manuel Zelaya's proposal to vote on whether to convene a Constitutional Assembly -- was touted as sufficient reason to oust a democratically elected president, and ushered in a violent and politically questioned period in Honduras. Human rights continue to be a weak point, and judicial independence is highly questioned.
In fact, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court that is responsible for last week's ruling that would permit presidential reelection is the same one whose members were replaced a couple of years ago. The sitting judges were named by current President Juan Orlando Hernández or his proxies, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The five-member panel of the Supreme Court voted unanimously last Wednesday to strike down the Constitutional Amendment that would prohibit reelection. But on Thursday, one judge changed his vote, which should have sent the case to the full fifteen-member Court, according to the Times. Yet the government's official Gazette published the ruling as unanimous on Friday, making the ruling official.
Zelaya said last week that "there is sufficient indication for one to assume that National Party extorted the magistrates so that they would repeal (the ban on re-election)," according to TeleSur.
Opposition parties opposed the decision in Congress yesterday, in a session that was suspended due to lawmakers' vociferous protests. Tiempo notes that only party leaders were permitted to speak, and no motions or projects that would revert the decision were permitted. One lawmaker called for the impeachment of the judges responsible for striking down the reelection amendment.
Hernández avoided speaking on the subject in a press conference yesterday, saying he just wants to continue working on his government's economic and social policies.
The Harvard Political Review recently published a deeper examination of the ambiguous U.S. response to the 2009 coup.
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