Lawmakers exchanged blows in the Honduran Congress Friday as a dispute among members of president-elect Xiomara Castro’s party turned violent.
Legislators from her leftist Libre party protested after 20 rebel members proposed Jorge Calix, one of their cohorts, as provisional congress president.
Castro loyalists claimed this violated a pact with Libre’s coalition partner.
Amid cries of “traitors” and “Xiomara!”, angry Libre legislators forced their way to the podium while Calix was being sworn in, causing him to flee under a hail of punches and much pushing and shoving.
It was the first sitting of the 128-member Congress since elections last November.
Following an emergency party meeting later on Friday, the president-elect announced that the 20 members had been expelled from Libre, calling them “traitors” and “corrupt”.
The crisis began late Thursday when Castro called her party’s 50 legislators to a meeting to ask them to support Luis Redondo of the Savior Party of Honduras (PSH) as congress president.
The 20 rebel members did not attend.
On Friday, Libre leader Gilberto Rios told AFP that the 20 are backed by groups that wish to stop Castro’s promised anti-corruption campaign, including people in “organized crime” and “drug trafficking.”
Castro won elections on November 28 to become Honduras’ first woman president and end 12 years of National Party rule. She won as part of an alliance between Libre and the PSH, to which the presidency of Congress was promised.
Castro accused the dissidents of “betraying the constitutional agreement” and “making alliances with representatives of organized crime, corruption and drug trafficking.”
Her husband Manuel Zelaya, a former president who was deposed in a 2009 coup supported by the military, business elites and the political right, is a senior Libre party official.
Castro is to be sworn in on January 27 along with other senior officials, including the congress president, at a ceremony attended by international guests including US Vice President Kamala Harris.
by Noe LEIVA