TEGUCIGALPA, January 27, 2014 (AFP) – Conservative Juan Orlando Hernandez will be sworn in Monday as president of Honduras, one of Latin America’s poorest countries and which is battling a soaring crime rate.
Hernandez, 45, a lawyer, inherits a deeply divided country of 8.5 million people with 71 percent of the population living in poverty and a spiraling homicide rate of 20 murders per day, one of the highest in the world.
He replaces Porfirio Lobo, of the same National Party, and will receive the presidential sash in a ceremony at the National Stadium in the capital Tegucigalpa at 10:00 am (1600 GMT).
Among the anticipated 30,000 spectators will be Prince Felipe of Spain and Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou.
Honduras’ Supreme Court last month rejected an appeal to overturn November’s presidential election results, which the leftist Libre party claimed was stolen by fraud.
Libre candidate Xiomara Castro, wife of party leader and ex-president Manuel Zelaya, officially lost to Hernandez, garnering just 29 percent against 37 percent. She described the results as a “disgusting monstrosity.”
Zelaya was deposed at gunpoint in a June 2009 coup after he aligned Honduras with the leftist governments of Cuba and Venezuela.
It led to 100 days of unrest that included massive street protests and a crackdown on leftist activists.