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  HOME | Central America

Honduran Coup Foes Proclaim “People’s Curfew” for Election Day

TEGUCIGALPA – The Resistance Front representing opponents of the June 28 coup that ousted President Mel Zelaya are urging Hondurans to remain in their homes Sunday and boycott the presidential election presided over by a repressive de facto regime.

“It’s a people’s curfew in protest of the coup d’état and the electoral fraud put on by the putschists,” a coordinator of the front, Rafael Alegria, told Efe on Friday.

“The day of the elections,” he said, “police, soldiers and army reservists will be pointing rifles at the population.”

Alegria said the Resistance Front was preparing a protest for Monday outside Congress to demand Zelaya’s reinstatement.

The front announced its plans a day after Zelaya filed a protest with the Organization of American States about “contradictions” in Washington’s position on the coup and the elections.

“I raise with you, in your character of OAS secretary-general, the formal complaints of my government and the Honduran people about ... the manifest ambiguity and contradiction of the government of the United States of America,” Zelaya said in a letter to Jose Miguel Insulza.

He said that the United States and other, unnamed countries are “using ambiguous and imprecise positions.”

“On one hand, they recognize my government, nevertheless, on the other hand, they ignore our positions and the OAS and U.N. resolutions (demanding Zelaya’s reinstatement) and heed the instructions of the de facto regime (in Tegucigalpa),” the letter said.

Zelaya, holed up at the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa since slipping back into the country Sept. 21, went on to recount how soldiers stormed his residence “with guns blazing,” dragged him out and put him on a plane to Costa Rica, while a plurality of Congress fabricated a “resignation” and the Honduran Supreme Court ordered his arrest on trumped-up charges.

“This has been condemned and characterized by every country in the world as a violent and unexpected rupture of the democratic order, a military coup d’etat,” the missive to Insulza said.

Coup opponents, backed by most of the international community, say a free and fair vote is impossible given the repression imposed by Roberto Micheletti’s de facto regime, which has killed at least a dozen people, imprisoned hundreds and repeatedly shut down independent media.

Five human rights organizations with representatives in Honduras denounced the existence of a “climate of terror” ahead of Sunday’s elections in the Central American country.

Soldiers on the street “detain members of the resistance for no reason,” assaulting them in some instances, the groups said in a communique issued Thursday.

The de facto regime is threatening criminal charges against people who urge a boycott of Sunday’s vote and airing television ads warning of legal consequences for failing to cast a ballot.

Journalists are subject to “harassment” and the regime continues to interfere with the operations of anti-coup media such as Radio Globo and television stations Cholusat Sur and Canal 36.

Moreover, the Honduran Supreme Court has begun disciplinary action against appellate Judge Tirsa Flores “for acts related to her position critical of the coup,” the rights organizations said.

While most OAS member-states have said they will not recognize the Honduran elections, Washington is backing the process and personnel from the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, both funded by the U.S. Congress, will travel to Honduras to observe the balloting.

Another crack in the anti-coup front emerged Friday, when Costa Rican President Oscar Arias called on the international community to demonstrate “maturity” by accepting the election outcome, “if everything goes fine” on Sunday.

Arias, whose proposals formed the basis for an Oct. 30 accord between Zelaya and Micheletti that was supposed to end the crisis, told CNN the international community should not “punish” Honduras by isolating the new government.

Peru’s foreign minister, Jose Garcia Belaunde, said Friday during a meeting of the 12-member Union of South American Nations – Unasur – that Lima will recognize the Honduran results “if the elections take place with transparency, without objections.”

But in Brussels, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said Unasur would not recognize the outcome in Honduras.

Correa, whose country currently holds the Unasur chairmanship, also urged the European Union to reject the Honduran electoral process.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon, an important U.S. ally in the region, told Efe in an interview that his country will await “the certainty of a constitutional restoration” before recognizing the winner of the election to succeed Zelaya.

Speaking at the Unasur meeting in Quito, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said that elections “emerging from a coup” and after “a long period of state of siege” were not “a good sign.”

The U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Arturo Valenzuela, said Monday that though elections meeting international standards “are a necessary condition” for the restoration of democratic order in Honduras, “they are not sufficient.”

What is also needed, he said in a speech at OAS headquarters, is full compliance with the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord, which was based largely on the suggestions put forward by Costa Rica’s Arias.

But Zelaya pronounced that pact dead early this month after Micheletti formed a “national unity” government headed by himself before Congress even addressed the matter of restoring the legitimate president.

Critics say the de facto regime was emboldened when Valenzuela’s predecessor, Thomas Shannon, said Washington would recognize the election winner regardless of whether Zelaya was reinstated.

Micheletti contends Zelaya’s ouster was not a coup, insisting that the army was simply enforcing a Supreme Court ban on the president’s planned non-binding plebiscite on the idea of revising the constitution.

But while coup leaders and their apologists accuse Zelaya of seeking to extend his stay in office, any constitutional change to allow presidential re-election would not have taken effect until months – if not years – after the incumbent stepped down in January. EFE

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