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Honduras’ new leader sees ‘betrayal’ before taking office

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Honduran President-elect Xiomara Castro saw her prospects for a successful administration take a hit Friday before she was even sworn in: A battle for the leadership of the newly elected Congress turned into shouting and in jostling between his own allies.

The dispute threatens to split his own Freedom and Refoundation Party, as well as his alliance with Vice President Salvador Nasralla’s party – and has raised suspicions that the incumbent government is trying to scuttle his administration before it does. can start.

Castro had promised to hand over the leadership of the new Congress to an allied party on which it will depend to pass legislation after it takes office on Thursday.

Instead, 20 members of his own party broke ranks and chose one of their own as leader – winning votes from anti-Castro parties to defeat the president-elect’s candidate

This infuriated Castro, who tweeted, “The betrayal is total.”

Castro’s party, known as Libre, won 50 of Congress’s 128 seats in November elections and to pass legislation it will need the votes of allies such as the Honduras Salvation Party of Nasrallah.

Nasralla ended his own presidential campaign and endorsed Castro in October, creating a united front to remove the ruling National Party from power. As part of the deal, Nasralla was given the vice-presidency and his party was to lead the new Congress.

This leader was supposed to be Luis Redondo. But on Friday, 20 free lawmakers instead backed one of their own, Jorge Cálix, and other parties opposed to Castro backed him as well.

This sparked jostling and shouting between loyalist and dissident Libre members inside the chamber. Outside, meanwhile, angry Libre supporters chained the doors of Congress so lawmakers couldn’t get out. Riot police intervened and eventually regained control.

Political analyst and former presidential candidate Olban Valladares said the dispute could be the result of interference by the outgoing administration of President Juan Orlando Hernández, whose National Party had controlled the previous Congress with its allies.

Valladares said the developments made it doubtful that Castro could count on his party’s full support to solve Honduras’s problems.

Former President Manuel Zelaya, Castro’s husband, said via Twitter that Cálix’s selection would not be recognized and traitors would be expelled.