Honduras to complete talks with UN on anti-corruption mission, says president

FILE PHOTO: Honduran President Xiomara Castro addresses the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in New York City, U.S., September 20, 2022. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Honduras will soon complete negotiations with the United Nations that aim to create an international mission to fight corruption in the country, President Xiomara Castro said on Monday.

The government has been negotiating with U.N. officials since May on creating the mission, with experts saying widespread graft in Honduras has aggravated poverty, violence and increased migration to other countries.

"A high-level delegation will travel to the United Nations tomorrow in order to finalize the agreements," the leftist president said at an event in a rural area.

The Honduran delegation will be led by Foreign Minister Enrique Reina. At a separate event, he said his team would work to install the mission, known as the International Mission Against Corruption and Impunity (CICCIH), as soon as possible.

One of Castro's campaign pledges, the new mission would arrive around three years after a previous anti-corruption mission, the Support Mission Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCHI), was disbanded.

MACCHI, backed by the Organization of American States (OAS), had operated in Honduras since 2016, but it was wound down after former President Juan Orlando Hernandez failed to reach an agreement to extend its stay in the country.

MACCHI had exposed the corruption of public officials and politicians, many linked to Hernandez, leading to several convictions including that of Rosa Elena Bonilla, the wife of former President Porfirio Lobo, for misappropriating funds destined for social programs.

Hernandez, who was extradited to the United States on drug and weapons charges, has pleaded not guilty to accusations he received millions of dollars from drug traffickers in exchange for protection, and used the money to finance his campaigns.

(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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