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Honduras urged to restore Zelaya
Chavez blames "the Yankee empire" as Obama urges dialogue in Central American nation.
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2009 18:44 GMT
Zelaya, left, has aligned himself with Chavez despite being elected as a conservative [File: AFP]

Leaders across the Americas have condemned Honduras's military after it forced Manuel Zelaya, the president, to seek exile in Costa Rica.

Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, called the events of Sunday an "affront" and said that he saw the hand of the US in the apparent coup.

"The Yankee empire has a lot to do" with developments in Honduras, he told Venezuelan television.

Despite being elected in 2006 as a member of a conservative party, Zelaya has moved to the left since taking power, aligning himself with Chavez and Evo Morales, his Bolivian counterpart.

Chavez demanded a clear distancing by Washington from the developments in Tegucigalpa.

 "I call on the president of the United States to issue a statement as we have, rejecting this affront, which not only goes against Honduras but against all the peoples of Latin America," he said.

"It's like so many coups that have taken place in Latin America over the past 100 years, against the wishes of the people and against a president who merely is trying to hold a popular vote."

Obama concerned

Shortly afterwards, Barack Obama, the US president, released a statement saying that he was "deeply concerned" by the arrest of and then expulsion of Zelaya.

Factbox: Honduras


 Second largest country in Central America
 Population of 7.2 million
 Second poorest country in the region
 Economy forecast to grow less than two per cent this year
 Relies on money from Hondurans in the US for more than 25 per cent of its gross domestic product
 Former Spanish colony gained independence in 1821

"As the Organisation of American States (OAS) did on Friday, I call on all political and social actors in Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and the tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter," Obama said.

"Any existing tensions and disputes must be resolved peacefully through dialogue free from any outside interference."

Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research, told Al Jazeera that there were likely to be further questions raised about Washington's role in events.

"The United States really has to take a leadership role here or there is going to be a lots of suspicion," he said.

"They have a very close relationship with the Honduran military, it is probably one of the closest relationships that the United states has with a military in the hemisphere and it has been going on for decades."

Jose Miguel Insulza, the OAS secretary-general, issued a statement before an emergency meeting of the group in Washington that "severely condemned the coup that a group of soldiers have carried out against the government of President Jose Manuel Zelaya".

On its part, the European Union urged a "swift return to constitutional normality".

"The EU strongly condemns the arrest of the constitutional president of the Republic of Honduras by the armed forces," Jan Kohout, the Czech foreign minister, said.

"This action is an unacceptable violation of constitutional order in Honduras," Kohout, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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