June 30, 2009 23:53
Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya says he plans to return to the country Thursday, four days after he was arrested and expelled by the military. Zelaya told a meeting of Latin American leaders Monday in Nicaragua he hopes to return with Organization of American States Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza.
Honduran soldiers, acting on orders of the Supreme Court, arrested Zelaya early Sunday and flew him to Costa Rica. The United States and other countries have condemned the action and say Zelaya is still president of Honduras. Zelaya is expected to address the UN General Assembly Tuesday. In Washington, the OAS is scheduled to hold another special session to discuss the situation.
On Monday, Honduran security forces clashed with more than 1,000 demonstrators protesting what they call a coup. Police fired tear gas to push back the protesters massing outside the presidential palace in the capital, Tegucigalpa.
U.S. President Barack Obama has said the ouster was "not legal" and that the United States still views Zelaya as the Honduran president. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for Honduras to restore full democratic and constitutional order.
UN General Assembly President Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann said the ouster was a "throwback to another era that we had hoped was now a distant nightmare."
The Honduran Supreme Court says it ordered the army to arrest Zelaya because of his attempt to hold a referendum on changing the constitution to allow him to run for another term. The court had ruled the referendum illegal. Honduran lawmakers Sunday appointed parliament leader Roberto Micheletti as president. Micheletti said his rise to power was legal and not a coup. He is facing growing international pressure from foreign governments including the United States, Mexico and Venezuela.
Zelaya was elected in 2006 to a four-year term. The 1982 constitution bans re-election. Despite his ouster, he has pledged to serve out his term.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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