Honduras defiant to OAS appeal
Says leader will be arrested if he returns
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras - Honduras’s Supreme Court rebuffed a personal appeal from the Americas’ top international diplomat yesterday, refusing to restore ousted President Manuel Zelaya before a deadline today.
José Miguel Insulza, who heads the Organization of American States, flew to Honduras in an attempt to persuade the forces that ousted Zelaya to take him back in the face of overwhelming international condemnation and economic sanctions.
Insulza met for two hours with Jorge Rivera, president of the Supreme Court that authorized the military to seize Zelaya on Sunday and fly him into exile.
“Insulza asked Honduras to reinstate Zelaya, but the president of the court categorically answered that there is an arrest warrant for him,’’ said court spokesman Danilo Izaguirre. “Now the OAS has to decide what it will do.’’
Insulza made no comments as he emerged from the meeting. He has said Honduras will be suspended from the organization, a move that could lead to further sanctions against one of the Americas’ poorest countries, unless Zelaya is restored by this morning. The OAS has called an emergency meeting in Washington for this afternoon.
Insulza had conceded before traveling to Honduras that his mission was unlikely to succeed, saying: “It will be very hard to turn things around in a couple of days.’’
“We are not going to Honduras to negotiate. We are going to Honduras to ask them to change what they have been doing,’’ he said.
Insulza also was meeting with leaders of Congress, “basically to clarify exactly what our position is.’’ But he said he would not see Roberto Micheletti, whom Congress named president after Zelaya’s ouster, to avoid legitimizing the government.
Micheletti’s foreign minister, Enrique Ortez, said that Insulza “can negotiate all he wants, except for Zelaya’s situation.’’
“That is not negotiable because he cannot return to Honduras, and if he does he will be arrested and tried,’’ Ortez said.
Zelaya, who was traveling in Central America, planned to return to Honduras tomorrow, according to President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua. He has said he would be traveling with Insulza and the presidents of Argentina and Ecuador.
Contrary to assertions by the Micheletti government, Interpol released a statement yesterday saying it had not received any request to issue an arrest warrant for Zelaya.
Micheletti led a raucous chant of “Democracy!’’ before a giant crowd waving blue-and-white Honduran flags in front of the palace that Micheletti has occupied since Zelaya was seized by soldiers and flown into exile. He pledged to stand firm in the face of the international pressure.
“I am the president of all Hondurans,’’ he proclaimed.
“They said we were afraid, but here is the proof that the people are not afraid,’’ Micheletti yelled. “We are asking Hondurans to communicate with their relatives throughout the world to tell them that no coup took place.’’