TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - The president of Honduras on Wednesday pledged his support to a group of lawmakers who are seeking to lift sanctions from a discussion on re-election, which the opposition says could pave the way for the president to seek a second term.
Some 15 lawmakers from the ruling National Party on Monday lodged an appeal with the country's Supreme Court that seeks to overturn a rule that suspends lawmakers for 10 years for proposing or supporting re-election.
The appeal could be resolved by March of next year, a court official said.
The country's 1981 Constitution prohibits the president's re-election.
"Honduras, like any country in the world, must be prepared to discuss and have these debates at a high level. Why should lawmakers be punished for making proposals such as this, or any other?" President Juan Orlando Hernandez said to reporters.
Hernandez, who took office in January, has not said whether or not he would seek re-election.
Former President Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a military coup in 2009 after proposing a referendum to amend the Constitution, a move interpreted by opponents as a bid to seek a second term.
Zelaya, who leads the leftist Liberty and Refoundation Party, said: "We are not opposed to re-election, but to the way these lawmakers are going about it."
"The right thing to do would be to hold a referendum," he added.
Salvador Nasralla, leader of the Anticorruption Party, told Reuters: "What we are seeing is the tip of a project to maintain the current government's power, which the opposition rejects."
(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia, writing by Elinor Comlay, editing by G Crosse)