Honduran President Ousted in Coup

Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was forcibly removed from his political office by a military coup on Sunday. It was the culmination of tension surrounding a referendum vote that had the potential to allow Zelaya to remain in office past the traditional one-term, four-year rule set forth by the current Honduran constitution.

Zelaya had proposed revising the constitution to allow an extension to the presidential term limits but was blocked by the country's Supreme Court, which ruled the referendum unconstitutional. Congress followed suit, leading to weeks of protests both in support of and against the president's referendum request. When the Honduran Army refused to help organize the vote for Sunday, Zelaya fired Commander General Romeo Vásquez, a move that was quickly reversed by the Supreme Court.

Zelaya told Telesur that he was awakened by gunshots Sunday morning, when masked soldiers confiscated his cell phone and shoved him into a van. He was then put on a plane to San Jose, Costa Rica. “They are creating a monster they will not be able to contain,” Zelaya told
a local television station, “a usurper government that
emerges by force, cannot be accepted, will not be accepted by any

Roberto Micheletti, former head of the Honduran Congress, was sworn in as provisional president after a letter of resignation supposedly written by Zelaya was read and lawmakers voted to accept it and strip him of his powers. But the deposed president has denied writing any such letter and has defiantly decided to continue exercising his presidential duties and take a trip to Managua, Nicaragua, for a summit of Central American heads-of-state.

The coup has been widely condemned in the region, especially by Zelaya's leftist allies. Hugo Chavez said in a formal statement that Zelaya had been "violently expelled from his country by a group of unpatriotic, coup-mongering soldiers." President Obama was also troubled by the situation, stating, "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 continued, "Any existing tensions and disputes must be resolved peacefully through dialogue free from any outside interference."