Sunday, June 28, 2009

Zelaya Remains Legitimate Honduran Leader, U.S. Officials Say


By Greg Stohr
June 28 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. officials said they continue to regard ousted Manuel Zelaya as the legitimate president of Honduras and are working with other countries in the region to restore him to power peacefully.
Obama administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity in a conference call today with reporters, said they expect the Organization of American States to issue a resolution condemning the coup. The OAS is meeting today in Washington.
Zelaya, an ally of Venezuela’s socialist president, Hugo Chavez, was ousted by the military after his opponents accused him of seeking to change the constitution to hold onto power.
President Barack Obama said in a statement earlier today that he was “deeply concerned” by the reports and called on “all political and social actors in Honduras to respect democratic norms.”
The administration officials said the U.S. government is in touch with Zelaya, who is now in Costa Rica, and that the Honduran military broke off contact with U.S. diplomats after the takeover. The officials said the U.S. isn’t considering military intervention.
In the days leading up to the ouster, the U.S. government urged the military and others in the country to resolve their differences through peaceful means, the officials said.
Seized by Soldiers
Zelaya was seized by soldiers who surrounded his house and forced him to board a plane for Costa Rica. The military acted after the Central American nation’s supreme court overturned the president’s decision to fire the commander of the armed forces.
Electricity and telephone service in the country were cut, and government supporters took to the streets of Tegucigalpa, the capital. Leaders from around the world condemned the coup, and regional counterparts will hold an emergency summit in Managua, Nicaragua tomorrow to discuss plans to help return Zelaya to power.
The Honduran Congress named Roberto Micheletti, who was serving as the legislative body’s president, the nation’s president to replace Zelaya, the Telesur network reported.
Honduras’s foreign minister, Patricia Rodas, was also seized by the military, Venezuelan Ambassador Armando Laguna said in comments broadcast on Telesur. Laguna and the ambassadors of Nicaragua and Cuba in Honduras were beaten and briefly detained after trying to defend Rodas against masked soldiers, Laguna said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.net. Last Updated: June 28, 2009 18:11 EDT

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