Saturday, 5 December 2009

Honduran MPs vote for the coup

Honduran legislators have voted to uphold central America's first military-led coup in 20 years.

Some 111 members of the 128-member congress rejected the reinstatement of ousted President Manuel Zelaya, with only 14 members voting in favour following a seven-hour debate.

Right-wing MPs argued that they were right the first time when they voted to oust Mr Zelaya.

They maintained that he had ignored a Supreme Court order to cancel a referendum on whether to convene a constituent assembly to consider modernising the country's constitution.

That vote was held hours after soldiers had stormed into Mr Zelaya's residence in June and flew him into exile in his pyjamas.

Progressive MPs expressed outrage after Wednesday's vote.

Democratic Unification Party (DUP) MP Cesar Ham asked: "How can we call this a constitutional succession when the president's residence was shot at and he was taken from his home in pyjamas?

"This is embarrassing. He was assaulted, kidnapped and ousted by force of arms from the presidency," Mr Ham observed.

Fellow DUP MP Marvin Ponce warned that there was no chance of ending the constitutional crisis triggered by the coup unless Mr Zelaya was reinstated, saying that, until then, "we will be talking about a fictitious reconciliation."

While legislators debated, hundreds of Mr Zelaya's supporters protested behind police lines outside Congress.

The country's constitutional premier, who listened to the proceedings from his refuge in the Brazilian embassy, said even before the vote that he wouldn't return for a token two months if asked.

Mr Zelaya observed that he should have been reinstated before Sunday's presidential election and urged governments not to restore ties with the incoming administration of right-wing rancher Porfirio Lobo.

"Today, the MPs at the service of the dominant classes ratified the coup d'etat in Honduras," he declared.

"MPs with inadequate international backing are condemning Honduras to exist outside the rule of law, to keep afflicting the large impoverished majority," he warned.

Most countries in the Americas have indicated that they will not recognise Mr Lobo's new government and insist on Mr Zelaya's immediate restoration to the presidency.

But the US, Canada, Peru, Costa Rica, and Panama have decided to recognise the outcome of the election.

From Morning Star on Thursday 03 December 2009