manuel zelaya, honduras coup, micheletti interim government
AP Photo/Esteban Felix
People, holding up fake coffins with images of fellow protesters killed during previous
demonstrations, march in support of Honduras' ousted President Manuel Zelaya in
Tegucigalpa, Friday, Aug 21, 2009.

Honduran Supreme Court Denies Zelaya’s Return, Keeping Political Crisis Alive

August 24, 2009 04:00 PM
by Anita Gutierrez-Folch
By rejecting Costa Rica’s proposal to reinstate Manuel Zelaya as president, the Supreme Court continues to support the military coup that removed Zelaya in an effort to defend the Honduran constitution.

No Return for Zelaya

In a Saturday ruling, the Supreme Court in Honduras voted against a deal proposed by Costa Rica “that would have restored ousted president Manuel Zelaya to power,” AFP reports. Instead, the court warned Zelaya that he would be facing arrest charges if he returned to the country.

Manuel Zelaya was removed from office on June 28, during a military coup that aimed to protect the observance of the Honduran national constitution. Zelaya, democratically elected in 2006, had intended to hold a referendum in order to extend his nonrenewable four-year term.
As the BBC explains, Costa Rican president Oscar Arias proposed to reinstate Zelaya as president as a means to end the political crisis in Honduras. His proposed deal also suggested “return[ing Micheletti] to his pre-coup post as the speaker of Honduras’ parliament” and to organize an early election.

The Supreme Court, however, did not approve of Zelaya’s potential return to the Honduran presidency, and declared that the ex-president will be charged with “crimes against the government, treason against the nation, abuse of power” and other offences if he chose to return to Honduras, AFP reports. Since the military coup that removed him from power on June 28, Zelaya has symbolically stepped across the border from Nicaragua back into Honduras, taunting authorities and conveying his unwillingness to give up the fight.

As the BBC explains, the Honduran Supreme Court’s decision has also come to “affir[m] the legitimacy of the government of interim leader Roberto Micheletti,” who stepped into power after the military coup and had not been officially recognized. According to the Supreme Court, Micheletti’s government is an acceptable “constitutional succession” after Zelaya’s removal, and should remain in place until the presidential elections in November, AFT reports.

The BBC notes, furthermore, that the ruling came to pass shortly before a scheduled visit by a commission from the Organisation of American States (OAS), which had previously expressed their support for the deal proposed by Costa Rica. In the light of the new developments, it is unclear whether this visit will still occur.

Background: Military Coup Shines World Spotlight on Honduras >

Related Topic: Manuel Zelaya’s Possible Return Prompts New Curfew in Honduras >

Most Recent Beyond The Headlines