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  • Honduras' President Juan Orlando Hernandez participates in a news conference, February 10, 2015.

    Honduras' President Juan Orlando Hernandez participates in a news conference, February 10, 2015. | Photo: Reuters

Published 24 April 2015

Critics say Hernandez is seeking re-election, after his party backed a 2009 coup claiming Manuel Zelaya sought a constitutional change to run again.

The Honduran Supreme Court voted Thursday to change wording in the country’s constitution in order to permit re-election.

The controversial decision comes six years after a coup ousted former President Manuel Zelaya over his supposed attempts to convene a constitutional assembly in order to seek re-election.

Lawmakers from the Libre Party, which was born out of the resistance movement against the 2009 coup, called the court's decision illegal and said that the Congress should convene a trial against the court's magistrates.

The move to eliminate term limits for the office of the president was promoted by members of the ruling National Party of President Juan Orlando Hernandez. Though Hernandez has not definitively said whether he would run again if permitted, a lawmaker from his party said he would not.

In December 2014, National Party lawmakers presented a petition before the Supreme Court that argued the ban on re-election was a violation of human rights. The court agreed with the petition and annulled article 239 of the Honduran constitution, which states that anyone who has served as president may not serve again.

Former President Rafael Leonardo Callejas, also of the ruling National Party, backed the petition before the Supreme Court and is expected to seek the presidency in upcoming elections.

"The resolution makes clear that no law may restrict the rights of Hondurans," said a court spokesperson.

Article 239 of the Honduran constitution is one of that country's infamous “set-in-stone” articles that specifies any attempt to modify it would result in the automatic loss of their post and would ban that person from seeking public office for 10 years. The court also annulled that clause as well as the penal code that also prohibited any attempts at reforming that article of the constitution.

The President of the National Congress said that the legislature would not debate the decision by the court, meaning it would be published immediately and become law.

The National Party, along with other dominant political parties, backed the 2009 coup that saw Zelaya kidnapped in the early morning of June 28 and flown by the military to Costa Rica. Zelaya was ousted for attempting to hold a non-binding plebiscite on whether to hold a referendum calling for a citizen’s assembly to re-write the country's constitution.

The coup was widely condemned by regional leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama. However the White House eventually facilitated the consolidation of the coup that kept Zelaya from completing his term.

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