Juan Orlando Hernandez was inaugurated Monday as president of Honduras, succeeding his National Party colleague Porfirio Lobo in a heavily attended ceremony in the National Stadium.
The presidential sash was bestowed on Hernandez by congress speaker Mauricio Oliva, also a member of the right-wing ruling party, as six heads of state and Spain’s crown prince looked on.
“I promise to be faithful to the Republic, its Constitution and the laws,” said Hernandez, Honduras’ ninth president since 1982, when the Central American country returned to democracy after almost two decades of military regimes.
Several air force fighter planes overflew Tegucigalpa to salute the country’s new leader, a 45-year-old attorney and businessman who won the Nov. 24 election by a narrow plurality.
The government made Monday a national holiday to facilitate public access to the stadium, which is being guarded by some 6,000 police and soldiers.
The ceremony was not attended by lawmakers from the main opposition leftist Libre party, headed by ousted President Mel Zelaya, who was angered by comments from Hernandez that seemed to link party members to criminal activity.
Present at Hernandez’s inauguration, however, were the presidents of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla; Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos; Kosovo, Atifete Jahjaga; Panama, Ricardo Martinelli; the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina; and Taiwan, Ma Ying-Jeou; as well as Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe.