Honduras Swears In Xiomara Castro As The Country’s First Female President

Xiomara Castro has been sworn in as Honduras’ first female president, taking office amid growing uncertainty about whether she will be able to govern in the face of an unfolding legislative crisis and other challenges.

Castro, the 62-year-old leader of the left-wing Libre Party, easily won the November 28 election, but subsequent political maneuvering in the run-up to her inauguration on Thursday has diverted attention away from what many hoped would be a fresh start in the troubled country.

She was sworn in Thursday afternoon at a national stadium in the capital, Tegucigalpa, in front of thousands of Hondurans waving flags.

Castro takes over as Honduras is embroiled in a power struggle over who would lead the newly elected Congress.

Two congressional leadership teams have been selected — neither legitimately, according to experts — and their standoff has threatened legislative paralysis at a time that Castro desperately needed to quickly get to work addressing systemic problems.

Honduras confronts high unemployment, ongoing violence, corruption, and dysfunctional healthcare and educational institutions, all of which Castro has vowed to address.

On Friday, however, elected MPs from Castro’s own Libre Party backed one of their own to be the new legislative body’s president rather than Castro’s pick, which had been agreed upon with her vice president in order to earn his party’s support. Neither side backed down, resulting in bizarre concurrent legislative sessions on Tuesday.

Al Jazeera reporter Manuel Rapalo on Thursday, said it is “an historic day for the people of Honduras”. About 80 international delegations were expected to attend Castro’s swearing-in ceremony.

“The sheer number of high-profile guests that are in attendance highlights the importance of this day,” he said ahead of the ceremony. “There are fireworks taking place here, a lot of excitement … on the streets.”

But despite that, Rapala stressed that Castro faces “a very tall order when it comes to addressing the many challenges and problems facing Honduras”, including violence, crippling poverty and an economic crisis worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s still the question of immigration. This is one of the reasons that [US] Vice President Kamala Harris is here – again looking to strengthen that relationship between the US and Honduras, hoping to find a multilateral approach to addressing the root causes of migration from Central America.”

The US, seeing an opportunity to win an ally, has strongly backed Castro and stated that it is ready to send assistance. However, in a possible sign of regional tensions, the presidents of neighboring El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua were not slated to attend the ceremony on Thursday.

Washington sees areas for cooperation on Castro’s priorities of fighting corruption and expanding economic prospects in her country, both of which could influence Hondurans’ decisions about whether to stay in the country or try to move to the US.

Harris was expected to meet privately with Castro soon after her inauguration, and the two had previously spoken by phone on December 10.

The vice president of Taiwan, William Lai, is also attending the inauguration in a bid to bolster ties with Honduras under Castro, who during her election campaign threatened to switch allegiance to Beijing from Taipei if elected president. After meeting Lai on Wednesday, Castro said Honduras is grateful for Taiwan’s support and hopes to maintain their relationship.

Meanwhile, Castro, who is taking over from right-wing President Juan Orlando Hernandez, has said she plans to formally invite the United Nations to set up an anti-corruption mission in Honduras.

“Honduras has been a very difficult partner for the United States, especially during the administration of Juan Orlando Hernandez for a number of reasons, including the consistent swirl of illegal activity around him and his family,” Jason Marczak, senior director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council told The Associated Press news agency.

Hernandez has been accused of corruption and links to drug traffickers in US courts, but has constantly denied the claims. Last year, a US judge sentenced his brother to life in jail plus 30 years for narcotics trafficking.

 

Translation: I am announcing to the country part of the team of women and men who will accompany me in the project of rebuilding Honduras.

Castro won her third presidential run. She previously served as first lady during her husband’s reign, which was ended by a military coup in 2009.

Castro announced her cabinet nominees via Twitter on Thursday, just hours before her inauguration.

Out of the 16 open positions, two were filled by women. Her son, Hector Zelaya, will be her private secretary, while her candidate for defense secretary is Manuel Zelaya’s cousin, Jose Manuel Zelaya. Ramon Sabillon, a former national police chief who returned to Honduras after years in exile in the United States, was her choice for security minister.

Source: today.ng

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  1. Ibrahim, I’m proud of you. I pray you reach where ever you want to 🙏🏽🤲🏽📿 I hope to see you…

Don't allow your current situation today to define your tomorrow, there is always a way to change for better.