May 22, 2017 / 3:40 AM / in 6 months

Honduran opposition groups back TV star for presidency

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - A broad left-right alliance of Honduran opposition groups picked a prominent television show host as presidential candidate on Sunday, creating a new hurdle for President Juan Orlando Hernandez as he seeks to retain power in a November election.

FILE PHOTO: Salvador Nasralla gestures during a interview with Reuters in Tegucigalpa October 5, 2011. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido/Files

Hernandez hopes to make history by winning an unprecedented second straight term following a 2015 Supreme Court decision that overturned a constitutional ban on re-election.

Calling itself the Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship, the coalition chose TV star Salvador Nasralla to try to stop Hernandez securing another four-year term in the violent, impoverished Central America nation.

“Today we’re an unstoppable force, no more drugs, no more violence, nor influence-trafficking from the government,” Nasralla said, dressed in a white suit and yellow shirt before a crowd of supporters waving red and white flags.

The tie-up encompasses the leftist Liberty and Refoundation Party (LIBRE) of deposed ex-president Manuel Zelaya, Nasralla’s centrist Anticorruption Party (PAC) and other groups, including a dissident from Hernandez’ center-right National Party.

Zelaya’s wife, former presidential candidate Xiomara Castro, will serve as Nasralla’s running mate in the alliance.

Hernandez is favorite to win re-election, though he was well short of an outright majority in an opinion poll published on Tuesday that gave him 36 percent support among voters.

That was double the 18 percent of his nearest rival, Luis Zelaya of the centre-right Liberal Party, some of whose members have joined the alliance fronted by Nasralla.

The same poll saw Castro with 12 percent support and Nasralla 11 percent, suggesting their ticket could prove the biggest challenge to Hernandez’ bid to hold on to his job.

Nasralla, an industrial engineer and business administrator, whose long TV career has extended from beauty pageants to sports journalism, finished fourth in 2013 presidential race.

The 64-year-old has campaigned strongly against corruption, like former TV comedian Jimmy Morales, who won the presidential election of neighboring Guatemala in October 2015.

Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Editing by Sandra Maler

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