International

Clinton Bemoans 'Unfortunate' Honduran 'Coup'; Interim President Defends It

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton did not equivocate today in speaking about the weekend ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.

His forced exile to Costa Rica was "a coup," she said.

And, the Associated Press says Clinton added, representatives from the Organization of American States are headed to Honduras "to begin working with the parties" to restore a constitutional government.

But the issue about just what has and has not been constitutional as events have unfolded in Honduras is complicated.

On the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal today, Journal editorial board member Mary Anastasia O'Grady notes that Zelaya was acting "as if he were above the law" in recent weeks.

Opponents accused the president of trying to force a national vote on whether to change the nation's constitution to allow him to remain in office for a second term, which the constitution prohibits. O'Grady writes that:

Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had (Venezuelan President Hugo) Chavez ship him the necessary ballots from Venezuela. The Supreme Court ruled his referendum unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics of the vote as it normally would do.

But on Thursday, O'Grady reports, Zelaya led supporters to the place where the ballots were stored. They started to distribute them. Sunday, soldiers went to Zelaya's home, arrested him and put the president and his family on a plane that took them to Costa Rica.

Today, interim president Roberto Micheletti defended the army's actions. In a conference call with reporters, he said "we are abiding by the constitution of our country" and that Zelaya "practically provoked this."

Micheletti also said Zelaya — an ally of Venezuela's Chavez — was leading Honduras to "communism or socialism."

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