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The Permanent Commission of the National Congress of Honduras appoints interim prosecutors

Just hours after being constituted in a night filled with violence and secrecy by the ruling party, the Permanent Commission of the National Congress of Honduras, under the leadership of Deputy Luis Redondo, President of the Legislative Board, appointed the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General of the Public Ministry (MP). The opposition bloc denounces an illegality and demands a halt to the search for "accomplice" authorities of Liberty and Refoundation, while this political party continues to denounce an alleged coup attempt against the legislative body.


By Jairo Videa | @JairoVidea

Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Deputy Luis Redondo, President of the National Congress of Honduras, swears in Johel Zelaya Álvarez as the interim Attorney General of Honduras, on the afternoon of Wednesday, November 1, 2023 | Photography from the Legislative Board
Deputy Luis Redondo, President of the National Congress of Honduras, swears in Johel Zelaya Álvarez as the interim Attorney General of Honduras, on the afternoon of Wednesday, November 1, 2023 | Photography from the Legislative Board

Honduras, a country with a tumultuous political history and a backdrop of polarization and conflict in the Legislative Power, finds itself once again in the midst of a political crisis that threatens to deepen instability in the Central American nation. The epicenter of this crisis is the controversial appointment of interim prosecutors to lead the Public Ministry (MP), a decision that increasingly deepens tensions and accusations of illegality from different political sectors. The spark that ignited this situation, worsened on the night of Tuesday, October 31 in the heart of Tegucigalpa, was the nomination and election of Johel Zelaya as interim Attorney General and Mario Morazán as Deputy Attorney General. This election took place in an extraordinary session of the Permanent Commission of the National Congress, presided over by Luis Redondo on Wednesday, November 1, starting at 12:10 p.m., who defended this appointment, arguing that it was necessary to prevent the former Deputy Attorney General, Daniel Sibrián, from perpetrating "undeniable, evident, and serious crimes against all Hondurans" and leading the criminal prosecution in the country, as he continues to hold office as of the close of this text.


The appointment of Zelaya and Morazán, members of the Freedom and Refoundation party (Libre), was presented as a provisional solution until the full Legislative Assembly could reach a definitive agreement on the appointment of MP authorities.


However, this decision was not well received by all political sectors, and immediate reactions escalated the tension in the National Congress. Deputies from the National Party of Honduras (PNH), led by Tomás Zambrano, expressed their disagreement with the appointment of the interim prosecutors and accused the members of the Permanent Commission of acting as "dictators". Zambrano went even further by comparing the situation to present-day Nicaragua, suggesting that Honduras is heading towards an authoritarian regime. Additionally, he harshly criticized the lawyers who accepted the positions of Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, accusing them of acting out of ambition and a thirst for power. Both Zelaya and Morazán were sworn in on the same Wednesday, while lawmakers banged on the door of the chamber in the hemicycle to prevent the motion.


One of the main reasons cited by critics of the appointment of interim prosecutors is the alleged illegality of this action. They argue that the members of the Permanent Commission cannot oversee the Public Ministry or manage that institution because they have not met the requirements established in the Constitution. This accusation of illegality becomes one of the central points of controversy, questioning the legitimacy of the interim prosecutors and their ability to effectively perform their duties.


In addition to the resistance of the PNH, the Salvadoran Party of Honduras (PSH) also vehemently rejected the appointment of interim prosecutors and considered it lacking legality and recognition. Deputies Irohska Elvir and Fátima Mena, who were part of the Permanent Commission, resigned from their appointments in protest of what they considered an illegal act. In this regard, the PSH urged the Legislative Board to appoint new MP authorities during the extension of the regular sessions that the opposition "approved" after the violent incidents on Tuesday, in order to permanently elect the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General. Furthermore, they urged Johel Zelaya and Mario Morazán to resign from their positions, arguing that their appointment undermines the institutional framework of the MP.


The interpretation of the Constitution of the Republic of Honduras is also at the heart of the controversy. According to the PSH, the appointment of interim prosecutors further exacerbates the crisis within the National Congress. They argue that, in accordance with Article 211 of the Constitution, there must be an absolute vacancy in the position for an interim appointment to take place, which would not apply in this case, as Daniel Sibrián still holds the position of interim Attorney General. This legal dispute adds an additional layer of complexity to the conflict.


Wednesday, November 1, 2023, from the National Congress of Honduras in Tegucigalpa:

The political crisis in Honduras has also been characterized by its intensity. In the extraordinary session in which the interim prosecutors were appointed, chaos broke out within the National Congress. Opposition lawmakers staged a brawl outside the voting chamber, which included punches, shouts, and shoving with the National Police officers guarding the area. This chaotic scene once again reflects the acute political polarization prevailing in the Central American country and the inability of political actors to peacefully resolve their differences while prioritizing responsible governance at all times.


Redondo, the President of the National Congress, justified the appointment by arguing that it was necessary to prevent Sibrián, the former Deputy Attorney General, from continuing in office and leading the criminal prosecution in the country. According to Redondo, this measure was essential to combat the corruption and impunity that, in his opinion, has affected the Honduran people and its institutions. However, this justification has been rejected by other political sectors, who believe it is an attempt to control the Public Ministry and exert influence over the judiciary.


On Wednesday, Redondo also claimed that the opposition's insistence in Honduras to prevent a transition in the judicial branch is due to more than 20 current legislators being investigated for embezzlement, corruption, and links to drug trafficking.


On the other hand, the always contentious Rasel Tomé, a Libre deputy, denounced an attempted coup against the Legislative Power by the opposition. According to Tomé, lawmakers from various parties, including the PNH, PSH, and the Liberal Party of Honduras (PLH), who are currently stationed at the main entrance of the Public Ministry in Tegucigalpa, attempted to undermine the country's constitutional order and overthrow the Libre Government in the Executive Branch. This accusation highlights the gravity of the situation and the magnitude of the political confrontation in Honduras, with each side accusing the other.


The political crisis in Honduras serves as a reminder of the persistent challenges facing the country in its quest for stability and governance. The appointment of interim prosecutors has triggered a series of legal and political disputes, exacerbating polarization in the National Congress and generating tensions across the country, as well as on digital social media platforms. Resolving this crisis will require a concerted effort from all political actors to find peaceful and democratic solutions that restore confidence in institutions and processes in Honduras.


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