UN body condemns Honduras coup

General Assembly adopts resolution calling for Manuel Zelaya to be returned to power.

honduras crisis
Protesters supporting Zelaya have clashed with police and troops over the military coup [AFP]

The ousted leader is expected to attend a special meeting of the OAS in Washington later on Tuesday, a US state department official said.

Zelaya is also likely to meet senior officials at the US state department, Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, said.

In a show of support for the sacked leader, Christina Fernandez, Argentina’s president, and Jose Insulza, the head of the OAS, are set to accompany Zelaya during his planned return to Honduras on Thursday, an Argentine foreign ministry source said on Tuesday.

Anti-Zelaya protest

The adoption of the General Assembly resolution came as hundreds of protesters turned out in Honduras in support of the removal of Zelaya, which took place on Sunday.

In depth

undefined World leaders condemn Honduran coup

Allies fret over coup
undefined Turmoil in Honduras
undefined Honduras’ president ousted

undefined Pictures: Honduras crisis

“We have just been to a very large demonstration by people who do support this move by the Honduran congress, courts and the army,” Mariana Sanchez, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, reported. 

“I just spoke to deputies here at congress and one of them told me that Zelaya was trying to do things that were not under the rule of law and was trying to build a ‘shadow congress’, if you will.”

The anti-Zelaya demonstration came a day after hundreds of supporters of the sacked president massed outside the presidential palace, calling for his reinstatement.

Riot police and soldiers fired tear gas at the protesters in an attempt to disperse the crowd, and later set up roadblocks in the streets leading to the palace, Sanchez reported.

Cristian Vallejo, a Red Cross paramedic, said he had taken 10 protesters to hospital, most of them with injuries from rubber-coated bullets.

At least 38 demonstrators have been detained by the security forces, Sandra Ponce, a human rights prosecutor, said.

Regional condemnation

The military-backed removal of Zelaya on Sunday came as a referendum on constitutional change was due to go ahead. While Zelaya had supported and organised the non-binding public vote, the congress and courts had declared the vote illegal.

The coup in Honduras has been condemned by several Latin American countries and the United States.

Country facts

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

Members of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (Alba), which includes Venezuela and Bolivia, said on Monday they would withdraw their ambassadors from Honduras.

Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, told Alba members: “We’re ready to support the rebellion of the Honduran people.”

Barack Obama, the US president, also criticised the Honduran military’s removal of Zelaya.

“We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the democratically elected president there,” Obama said.

“It would be a terrible precedent if we start moving backwards into the era in which we are seeing military coups as a means of political transition rather than democratic elections.

“The region has made enormous progress over the last 20 years in establishing democratic traditions… We don’t want to go back to a dark past.”

However, the United States has not legally classified the removal of Zelaya as a coup d’etat as it would automatically lead to the suspension of aid to Honduras, an impoverished nation of 7.2 million people.

“While certainly the United States has stood behind the OAS and the resolutions that have been admitted so far condemning the coup … US secretary of state [Hillary] Clinton released a clarifying statement saying that the United States government is still not legally calling [the events in Honduras] a coup d’etat and they are not considering suspending any form of relationship or economic aid to Honduras,” Eva Golinger, a Venezuelan-American lawyer and author, told Al Jazeera.

Roberto Micheletti, the former parliamentary speaker from the same Liberal party as Zelaya, has been sworn in by congress as Zelaya’s replacement.

He has insisted that Zelaya was not ousted through a coup but through “a completely legal process as set out in our laws”, calling the move an “act of democracy”.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies