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Honduras unrest flares as world calls for reverse of coup

 Soldiers react during clashes with supporters of ousted Honduras' President Manuel Zelaya after violence broke out near the presidential palace in Te...
 A riot police officer pushes a woman after violence broke out against supporters of ousted Honduras' President Manuel Zelaya near the presidential re...

Honduras Coup

Soldiers react during clashes with supporters of ousted Honduras' President Manuel Zelaya after violence broke out near the presidential palace in Te...

Honduras Coup

A riot police officer pushes a woman after violence broke out against supporters of ousted Honduras' President Manuel Zelaya near the presidential re...

Violence flared in Honduras Monday as demonstrators clashed with police and soldiers in the aftermath of President Manuel Zelaya's ouster, with international pressure mounting for him to be restored to power.

Defying a government curfew, hundreds of angry Zelaya supporters erected barricades near the presidential palace, threw rocks and beat at shield-bearing riot police with sticks and metal bars, with security forces cracking down on the protesters with tear gas and gunfire.

The violence, the most serious unrest in years in this Central American country, left several demonstrators and security forces wounded.

US President Barack Obama on Monday declared that the United States still considers Manuel Zelaya to be the president of Honduras and assailed the coup that forced him into exile as "not legal," widening the chasm between the Central American nation and much of the rest of the world.

"It would be a terrible precedent if we start moving backwards into the era in which we are seeing military coups as a means of political transition rather than democratic elections," Obama said in the Oval Office after meeting with Colombian President Alviro Uribe. "The region has made enormous progress over the last 20 years in establishing democratic traditions in Central America and Latin America. We don't want to go back to a dark past."

Obama said the U.S. must always "stand with democracy" even if doesn't like the results of elections.

But he was careful to cast the crisis as not one that the United States must solve alone, and he did not explicitly demand that Zelaya be returned to power. Rather, he said the U.S. would work with international partners on the less-defined goal of trying to "resolve this in a peaceful way."

The president also was careful when asked about the underlying conflict in Honduras — the referendum Zelaya had called in defiance of Honduras' courts and Congress. Zelaya's opponents saw it as a way for him to ultimately stay in power beyond his one-term limit. The vote never took place.

Obama said such matters are up to each country to decide, stirring up echoes of his comments on Iran, whose electoral crisis has grabbed world attention.

Just hours after Zelaya was deposed, the Honduran Congress swore in its speaker, Roberto Micheletti, as the interim president until January.

In one of his first acts, Micheletti imposed a 48-hour curfew on the capital and insisted he had come to power via a legal process. He also began naming members of his cabinet on Monday.

But Zelaya has said he remains the elected leader, and scores of young people, many wearing scarves to cover their faces, protested in the capital, Tegucigalpa, Monday. Shots had been heard in the city late Sunday.

Zelaya's overthrow was triggered by a standoff with the military and legal institutions over his bid to change the constitution to allow him to run for a second term in November elections.

Elected to a non-renewable four-year term in 2005, Zelaya had planned a vote Sunday asking Hondurans to sanction a referendum on changing the constitution.

But the referendum had been ruled illegal by Honduras's top court and was opposed by the military.

Leftwing Latin American leaders who met in Nicaragua Monday have backed Zelaya and said they were recalling its ambassadors to Honduras in protest at his removal.

The United Nations held emergency talks Monday on the crisis, and Zelaya was said to be likely to address the UN General Assembly Tuesday.


Updated : 2021-06-24 04:46 GMT+08:00