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Taiwan vice president cancels trip to Honduras inauguration

Honduran president wants low-profile ceremony

Vice President Chen Chien-jen (right) with Pope Francis at the Vatican in 2016.

Vice President Chen Chien-jen (right) with Pope Francis at the Vatican in 2016. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) has canceled his plans to attend the January 27 inauguration of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez after a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck near the Central-American country, reports said Wednesday.

Honduras is one of Taiwan’s 20 official diplomatic allies, and the voyage would have allowed Chen to strengthen foreign relations and to make expected stopovers in the United States.

According to the Central News Agency, the government of Honduras let it be known that the inauguration would go ahead but on a smaller scale than originally expected. Only foreign ambassadors in Tegucigalpa would be invited, so Chen had decided to cancel his visit, with Taiwanese Ambassador Ingrid Hsing (邢瀛輝) attending the ceremony instead.

Honduran Ambassador in Taipei Rafael Sierra Quesada named the disputed results of the presidential election and the death of the president’s sister in a helicopter crash as the main reasons for the inauguration’s low profile, CNA reported. He emphasized that bilateral relations were strong and stable, and that other heads of state had not been invited either.

Honduras initially did not allow re-elections of incumbent presidents, leading to protests against Hernandez. Allegations of ballot-rigging followed, with at least 31 people dying during demonstrations and the opposition promising more protests in the run-up to the inauguration.