Honduran leader: US weakened anti-coup movement

AP News
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Posted: Nov 23, 2009 11:08 PM

Honduran President Manuel Zelaya said Monday the United States has weakened efforts to reverse the coup that ousted him, while a U.S. envoy says his country has clearly opposed the ouster and will examine upcoming elections closely for fairness.

Zelaya told the Radio Globo station that the Nov. 29 presidential elections are an attempt to legitimize his ouster, and said "whoever is elected will be as illegitimate as (Roberto) Micheletti," the interim president who replaced him.

In an open letter to the presidents of the region, Zelaya called on the region's leaders "not to adopt ambiguous or imprecise positions like the one shown now by the United States, whose final position has weakened the effort to reverse the coup, illustrating the division in the international community."

But the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Arturo Valenzuela, said Monday that the elections "are not something invented by the de-facto government as a way out or to clean up the coup."

Valenzuela told a session of the Organization of American States that "this is an election consistent with the constitutional mandate to elect the president and congress."

He said U.S. and international observers will attend the vote and could recommend Honduras be readmitted to the regional body, depending on how fair the elections are.

"We will rely on the international observers from civic groups and our own observers to determine whether the elections meet international standards," Valenzuela said.

Honduras was suspended from the OAS following Zelaya's ouster on June 28, and Valenzuela suggested its reinstatement will depend on whether the election meets those standards. He also urged the Honduran congress to decide on Zelaya's reinstatement to serve out the remaining two months of his term.

On Monday, the government began distributing election material for Sunday's vote.

At his closing campaign rally Monday, candidate Porfirio Lobo of the conservative National Party promised to convene "a national dialogue" if he wins the elections, "because one part alone cannot find a solution to this."