Review of U.S. Response to the Honduran Political Crisis of 2009 Page: 3 of 17
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Honduras has been led by a civilian government under its current constitution since
1982. The Honduran government is composed of an executive (led by the
President), a unicameral legislature (the National Congress), and a judiciary. The
President of Honduras serves a 4-year term and is constitutionally prohibited from
re-election. Members of the National Assembly also serve a 4-year term, but may
stand for re-election. The highest judicial authority in Honduras is the Supreme
Court, which the National Assembly elects every 7 years.
Broad U.S. policy goals in Honduras include a strengthened democracy with an
effective justice system that protects human rights and promotes the rule of law, and
the promotion of sustainable economic growth with a more open economy and
improved living conditions. In addition to military and economic ties, the United
States cooperates with Honduras on transnational issues such as immigration,
crime, narcotics trafficking, trafficking in persons, and port security. For fiscal year
2010, the United States provided Honduras with approximately $51 million in foreign
In November 2005, Manuel Zelaya of the Liberal Party was elected president of
Honduras and inaugurated the following January.1 The months leading up to his
removal were a period of increasing political polarization within Honduras (see fig.
1). First, Zelaya proposed postponing the presidential primary elections scheduled
for November 16, 2008, ostensibly due to the logistical challenges created by
torrential rains and flooding. Second, in January 2009, Zelaya proposed that two
sitting members of the Honduran Supreme Court be considered for the new court.2
Both proposals were strongly opposed by the Honduran National Congress.
1Honduras has two dominant political parties-the Liberal Party and the National Party. There are
four additional parties that field presidential candidates-the Innovation and National Unity Party, the
Christian Democratic Party, the Democratic Unification Party, and the Popular Bloc.
2Under the Honduran constitution, the National Congress elects the Supreme Court every 7 years. A
nominating board reviews applications and submits a list of 45 candidates to the National Congress.
In 2009, the board did not include any of the sitting justices of the Supreme Court on its nominating
list. The National Congress had a deadline of January 25 to select thel 5-member court.
GAO-12-9R Honduran Political Crisis 2009
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Review of U.S. Response to the Honduran Political Crisis of 2009, text, October 20, 2011; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc302617/m1/3/: accessed November 12, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.