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Honduras president should be restored to power

President Barack Obama declared the Honduras coup illegal in June. The U.S., along with the nations of the Organization of American States (OAS), acknowledged that President Manuel Zelaya remains the democratically elected president of Honduras.

World leaders should follow suit by refusing to recognize Interim President Roberto Micheletti’s government and imposing sanctions on him.

According to the New York Times, the army ousted Zelaya on June 28. Early that morning, the coup moved into the presidential palace in Tegucigalpa, took the president and put him on a plane to San Jose, Costa Rica.

Weeks of tension over reports that Zelaya was trying to lift the presidential term limits led to the coup. The Honduran Congress and Supreme Court accused him of trying to hold a referendum on rewriting the constitution – a claim he denies, according to the Associated Press.

Zelaya has since sneaked back into the country and is currently
in the Brazilian Embassy in Honduras. Micheletti has ordered Zelaya’s arrest on treason charges as soon as he comes out of the embassy.

According to the AP, on Sept. 27, Micheletti ordered a decree that “empowered police and soldiers to break up public meetings, arrest people without warrants and restrict the news media.”

The decree, which was later lifted, shut down two pro-Zelaya media outlets and is still unwilling to return the seized equipment, preventing them from broadcasting information.

The decree was not democratic and actually has alienated some of his initial supporters.

Since the media in Honduras cannot properly cover the critical events, the U.S. and other countries should send more reporters to the country to keep the public informed.

The U.S. has suspended millions of dollars in aid for the country. Economic sanctions are essential, and other countries should follow suit so order can be restored to Honduras. If the de facto government does not receive economic help, it will be unable to maintain control over the country.

In a press conference, Obama said, “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.”

The interim president should wait until the president’s term is over in January and run for office since he feels strongly about the condition of the country.

The claims made against Zelaya should have been handled more appropriately. Even if he wanted to lift the ban on presidential term limits, Zelaya could not have done so without the approval of the Honduran Congress.

If the conflict is not resolved soon, the United Nations should take military action against the Micheletti regime in order to secure order in Honduras.

Xhenis Berberi is a senior majoring in political science and economics.