Leftist LatAm trade group slams 'coup attempt' in Honduras

UNITED NATIONS- Countries belonging to the leftist Latin American trade group ALBA condemned here Thursday what they called a coup attempt against Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.
"We denounce in front of the international community a coup under way against comrade Jose Manuel Zelaya, the constitutional president of Honduras," Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Dominica said in a statement.

They stressed that "the coup under way aims to thwart the democratic referendum called to determine whether the people backs the convening of a constitutional assembly."
The attempt by Zelaya, a leftist, to hold a referendum on changing the constitution has angered the country's top courts, the attorney general, military leaders and even his own party.
Zelaya wants to hold a referendum on Sunday to ask Hondurans if they approve of holding a vote on constitutional change in tandem with general elections in November -- a move that has been ruled illegal by the country's top court.
Zelaya sacked General Romeo Vasquez late Wednesday and also accepted the resignation of Defense Minister Edmundo Orellana, after military commanders refused to distribute ballot boxes for Sunday's vote.
But earlier Thursday, the Honduran Supreme Court unanimously voted to reinstate Vasquez following an appeal from the state prosecutor.
The sacking "violated constitutional guarantees," prosecutor Mauricio Aceituno told journalists.
The ALBA statement also called on the international community to "reject this attempt to break the democratic constitutional order as well as any violent and destabilizing action against the Honduran people and government."
UN General Assembly president Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann, a former Nicaraguan foreign minister, also strongly condemned "the attempted coup" against Zelaya and appealed to the different parties to resolve their differences through peaceful dialogue."
Hundreds of troops deployed early Thursday in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa in a bid to avoid possible disturbances, before returning to their barracks, an army spokesman said.
Zelaya is the latest of a string of Latin American leaders, including Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, to seek constitutional changes to expand presidential powers and also ease term limits.
His four-year term ends in January, and current law prevents him from seeking re-election.
ALBA was founded in 2004 by Venezuela and Cuba as a counterweight to the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) that the United States and several Latin American nations were proposing at the time.

Friday, June 26th 2009

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