Honduran president to seek re-election despite dispute

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — President Juan Orlando Hernandez announced Wednesday his intention to run for another term, a year after a controversial Supreme Court ruling voided a longtime constitutional ban on presidential re-election in Honduras.

Hernandez said in remarks at his residence in the capital that it was a "transcendental and complex" decision, one of the toughest decisions he had ever made. He added that his party asked him to run.

Opposition leaders quickly rejected Hernandez's announcement. They dispute the validity of the ruling, arguing the court did not have the authority to modify the constitution.

Salvador Nasralla, leader of the Anti-corruption Party, accused Hernandez of violating the constitution.

"According to our fundamental rules, he is disqualified from aspiring to office again," Nasralla said.

The issue of presidential re-election is politically charged in Honduras. In 2009, President Manuel Zelaya was deposed by the military for allegedly wanting to end the ban on second terms so he could run again.

"Hernandez wants to be re-elected just on a whim, and we will defeat him at the polls," Zelaya said.

Dozens of students, most of them wearing masks or bandannas to hide their faces, protested Hernandez's decision outside the National Autonomous University in eastern Tegucigalpa. Police repeatedly used tear gas to break up the demonstration, but the students regrouped to throw rocks and sticks, burn tires and block streets.

Retired Gen. Romeo Vazquez, who led the coup against Zelaya, called Hernandez a "traitor to the country."

Honduras' general election is scheduled for November 2017.
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