Carlos Roberto Flores Facusse took office on January 27, 1998, as Honduras’ fifth democratically elected President since democratic institutions were restored in 1981. Like three of his four predecessors, Flores was a member of the Liberal Party. He was elected by a 10% margin over his main opponent, National Party nominee Nora de Melgar. Upon taking office on January 27, 1998, Flores inaugurated programs of reform and modernization of the Honduran government and economy, with emphasis on helping Honduras’ poorest citizens while maintaining the country’s fiscal health and improving international competitiveness.
In October of 1988, Hurricane Mitch devastated Honduras, leaving more than 5,000 people dead and 1.5 million displaced. Damages totaled nearly 3 billion. The Honduran Government agreed to a new transparent process to manage relief funds, which included significant donor oversight. This open process greatly facilitated the relief and reconstruction effort. President Flores and his administration successfully managed more than 600 million in international assistance. Civil society’s role in the government-coordinated reconstruction process was lauded internationally. President Flores also moved judicial and penal reforms forward. He established an anticorruption commission, supported passage of a new penal code based on the oral accusatorial system, and saw passage of a law that created an independent Supreme Court. Flores cemented the transition from military to civilian rule by eliminating the military’s commander in chief position, and by signing a law that established a civilian Minister of Defense with formal authority over the military.
Honduras and Nicaragua had tense relations throughout 2000 and early 2001 due to a maritime boundary dispute off the Atlantic Coast. Relations between the two countries have since improved, although some animosity remains.
Ricardo Maduro Joest of the National Party was elected to the Honduran presidency on November 25, 2001, outpolling the Liberal candidate, Rafael Pineda Ponce, by eight percentage points. He was inaugurated on January 27, 2002. The elections, characterized by international observer teams as free, fair, and peaceful, reflected the maturing of Honduras’ democratic institutions. During his campaign, President Maduro promised to reduce crime, reinvigorate the economy, and fight corruption. Working to fulfill this promise, Maduro’s first act as President was to deploy a joint police-military force to the streets to permit wider neighborhood patrols in the ongoing fight against the country’s massive crime problem. While the initial result of this policy was overwhelmingly positive, the policy appears to have had only a minimally positive long-term effect on the country’s crime rate. President Maduro was a strong supporter of the global war on terrorism and joined the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq with a contribution of 370 troops. Under President Maduro’s guidance, Honduras also participated in the successful Central America Free Trade Agreement talks and actively promoted greater Central American economic integration.
In 2005, Manuel “Mel” Zelaya Rosales of the Partido Liberal (PL) became the president-elect of Honduras. His victory was scrutinized soon after the Nov. 27th election, but the failure of the Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE) to produce the data, led his opponent, Porfirio Lobo Sosa of the ruling Partido Nacional (PN), to refuse to concede until Dec. 5, 2005, when the data became available, abundant, and overwhelming. Even then, however, the TSE had still not published the full count or certified the results.
The reasons for the delay has still not been made public, but TSE sources have told the media that there had been tampering of some kind with the data. On the basis of exit polls and scrutiny by election observers, it was concluded that the data was representative and that the election process went off in an acceptable manner.
Manual Zelaya assumed the position of president-elect early on, even before the concession, and had already chosen most of his cabinet. Commentators had taken the view that Zelaya not only defeated the ruling party, but had beaten the conservative wing of his own party as well.
On June 28, 2009, the military arrested Manuel Zelaya Rosales by order of the Honduras Supreme Court of Justice, on the charges of violating the Constitution of Honduras, Honduran laws, and various court orders. He was expatriated to Costa Rica.
In depth information on what transpired during this time became known as the 2009 Honduran political crisis, and can be read here: Wikipedia Documentation on Honduras Political Crisis.
The Honduran constitution mandated that the next in succession to lead Honduras, was the head of the Honduran National Congress, Roberto Micheletti Baín. Micheletti was to act as the provisional head of state, since the Vice President, Elvin Ernesto Santos, had resigned in December of 2008, in order to run for President. Roberto Micheletti Baín completed the constitutional term that ended on January 27, 2010.
Porfirio Lobo Sosa was elected President of Honduras during the 2009 presidential election, and took office on January 27, 2010. He remains the current President of Honduras.