TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- Honduras took a step toward resolving a dispute over who will lead the newly elected Congress Monday, with dissident ruling party congressman Jorge Cálix agreeing to step aside.
The move allows an ally of President Xiomara Castro, Luis Redondo, to take over as undisputed head of congress.
“I step aside from my aspirations (to lead congress) and I agree to attend the sessions of representatives” in the official congress building, Cálix wrote in a text of the agreement.
While still clearly unhappy with the choice of Redondo, Cálix wrote “I will support the legislative agenda of President Xiomara Castro, and every bill she sends will be voted on in accordance with my convictions and commitment to the party, guaranteeing my support and my vote for refounding Honduras.”
Two congressional leadership teams had been selected in separate session by two blocks of legislators in January. But neither was selected legitimately, according to experts.
The standoff threatened legislative paralysis at a time that Castro desperately needs to quickly get to work addressing Honduras’ problems.
The odd standoff began on Jan. 23, when elected lawmakers from Castro’s own Liberty and Refoundation Party backed one of their own — Cálix — to be the new legislative body’s president Friday rather than support Castro’s choice, Redondo.
Assuring Redondo the post was a condition which had been agreed with Castro's vice president to win his party’s support.
For weeks, neither group backed down, leading to surreal simultaneous legislative sessions held in different locations, each claiming to be genuine.
The resolution had threatened Castro's high expectations to turn around the deeply troubled country, as uncertainty persisted about whether the legislative crisis would allow her the support she needs.
Relatively smooth elections and a healthy margin of victory Nov. 28 came as a relief, but political maneuvering in the run-up to Castro’s inauguration has muddled the outlook and distracted from what was to be a hopeful new beginning after the two terms of President Juan Orlando Hernández.
High unemployment, persistent violence, corruption as well as troubled health care and educational systems are just some of the pressing challenges awaiting Castro.