Honduran military assassinates leftist presidential candidate

Cesar Ham, presidential candidate and the head of Honduras’ only registered leftist political party, the Democratic Unification of Honduras, is dead. He was killed by a squad of soldiers who arrived at his home [yesterday] to arrest him.Cesar Ham

The military has rounded up many of Zelaya’s allies within the government. Chancellor Patricia Rodas remains kidnapped.

Honduran police confirmed Ham’s death to Notimex. The official version of events, as reported by Notimex, is that Ham confronted the military squad that came to his house with a gun, “and therefore he had to be killed.”

Despite being from a different party, Ham was a close ally of ousted President Manuel Zelaya. Ham’s party, the Democratic Unification of Honduras, is Honduras’ only registered leftist party. Zelaya is from the conservative Liberal Party; he became a populist leftist after being elected.

Ham, at the time of his assassination, was a member of Congress. He wholeheartedly supported President Zelaya’s initiative to form a constitutional convention to write a new Constitution, and he was one of the main organizers of [the] thwarted opinion poll that would have gauged public opinion on forming a constitutional convention.

Ham has come under fire this year from fellow members of Congress, with help from Honduras’ right-wing media. Gregorio Baca, a dissident member of Ham’s party who opposed an alliance with Zelaya, accused Ham of receiving “millions of dollars” from President Zelaya in exchange for his support of a referendum on a new constitutional convention. Right-wing newspaper El Heraldo accused Ham and his deputy Misael Castro of embezzling government money to pay for luxury cars. Neither of the accusations were ever verified by a court of law.

This past March the Democratic Unification party chose him as its presidential candidate by a vote of 104-4. The coup plotters had previously announced that the November 2009 elections would go on as planned. Ham’s assassination means that the only leftist candidate in the upcoming elections is now dead.

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