Sunday, June 28, 2009


Troops in Honduras have ousted the president and flown him out of the country after a power struggle over plans to change the constitution.
After arriving in Costa Rica, deposed President Manuel Zelaya said he had been kidnapped by soldiers in a "coup".
Mr Zelaya, elected for a non-renewable four-year term in January 2006, wanted a vote to extend his time in office.
His arrest came just before the start of a referendum ruled illegal by the Supreme Court and opposed by Congress.
There was also resistance within Mr Zelaya's own party to the plan to hold the vote.
Soldiers stormed the president's residence in the capital, Tegucigalpa, before dawn on Sunday, an hour before polls had been due to open.

In pictures: President ousted
Profile: Manuel Zelaya

Mr Zelaya was taken to an airbase outside the city and rumours swirled over his whereabouts, as his supporters confronted security forces outside the president's home.
Several hours later Mr Zelaya turned up in Costa Rica, where he said troops had arrested him in his pyjamas. He urged Hondurans to resist those who had removed him.
"I've been the victim of a kidnapping by a group of Honduran soldiers," he said.
"This was a plot by a very voracious elite, an elite which wants only to keep this country isolated, in an extreme level of poverty."
Later the Honduran Supreme Court said it had ordered the removal of the president, who had been due to leave office next January.
Honduran MPs are expected to appoint as acting head of state Congress President Roberto Micheletti, a member of Mr Zelaya's own party but an opponent of the deposed leader, reported Reuters news agency.

There was international condemnation of events in Honduras:
• At an emergency meeting in Washington, the Organization of American States condemned it as a "coup"
• Mr Zelaya's ally, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, blamed "the Yankee empire", and threatened military action in the event that the Venezuelan ambassador to Honduras was attacked
• The White House denied any involvement, US President Barack Obama urged Honduras to "respect the rule of law" and the EU condemned Mr Zelaya's arrest


Elected for Liberal Party in Nov 2005; beat ruling National Party candidate
Has moved Honduras away from its traditional ally the US
Enjoys the support of Venezuela's leftist President, Hugo Chavez
A civil engineer and rancher by profession

The military's dramatic move came after President Zelaya defied a court order that he should re-instate the chief of the army, Gen Romeo Vasquez.
The president sacked Gen Vasquez late on Wednesday for refusing to help him organise the referendum and accepted the defence minister's resignation.
A day later, the Honduran Congress approved plans to investigate whether the president should be declared unfit to rule.
The planned referendum was to ask the population if they approved of a formal vote next November on whether to rewrite the Honduran constitution.
Ballot boxes had been distributed by Mr Zelaya's supporters and government employees throughout the Central American nation.
In an interview with Spain's El Pais newspaper published on Sunday, Mr Zelaya said a plot to topple him had been thwarted after the US refused to back it.
"Everything was in place for the coup and if the US embassy had approved it, it would have happened. But they did not," Mr Zelaya said.
Honduras - an impoverished coffee and banana-exporting nation of more than 7 million people - has experienced military coups in the past.
Soldiers overthrew elected presidents in 1963 and again in 1975; the military did not turn the government over to civilians until 1981.



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