Honduras police say 4 people, rifles seized

AP News
Posted: Nov 24, 2009 11:47 PM

Honduran police detained two Nicaraguans and two Hondurans along with several rifles, and interim President Roberto Micheletti claimed the weapons were part of a plot to attack him during Sunday's presidential election.

The suspects, weapons, communications equipment and gun sights were found during a raid on a house in the city of El Progreso, north of the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, authorities said Tuesday.

"Today, police informed me that there was going to be an attack against me in the city of Progreso when I went to vote," Micheletti said at a news conference. Micheletti is from Progreso.

Micheletti, who was named acting president after a June 28 coup removed President Manuel Zelaya, has said he is taking a temporary leave from office from Thursday to Dec. 2, when the congress is expected to decide whether to reinstate Zelaya to serve out the final weeks of his term. He hopes the leave will win more international recognition for the vote.

Zelaya's ouster over his push to overhaul Honduras' constitution has isolated Micheletti's government diplomatically and led many countries to say they will not recognize the election, which was scheduled before the coup.

Zelaya, whose term ends Jan. 27, says the vote is an attempt to legitimize the coup and the results should not be recognized.

In announcing the weapons seizure and detentions, police spokesman Orlin Cerrato said, "There is no doubt that the intentions of these people was to cause chaos and fear among the Honduran people to damage the elections."

Authorities are nervous about purported efforts to disrupt the vote. On Nov. 12, assailants fired an anti-tank grenade toward a building where ballots for the presidential election were stored.

Honduras' electoral tribunal wants observers for the election so much that it is looking for them on the Internet.

The country's top elections court said Tuesday it hopes to make everyone a potential observer, by transmitting video images from a few polling stations and other electoral offices over the Internet.

"The entire world is going to be able to see" the vote to replace Zelaya, Supreme Electoral Tribunal Magistrate Enrique Ortez said at a news conference to announce the camera system. "If they don't want to come, or cannot come, to observe the process, we are making it available to them so there will be no doubt."

Tribunal President Saul Escobar acknowledged that for reasons of cost, there will be cameras at only about 15 of the country's 5,360 polling places.

Escobar said about 200 electoral observers are expected to participate, but noted "the traditional (monitoring groups) have not confirmed" they will attend.

Some governments have already said they will reject the results of the vote. Paraguay's foreign minister, Hector Lacognata, was the latest, issuing a statement Tuesday that his government would not recognize the election.

But Juan Carlos Varela, Panama's vice president, said during a visit to Honduras on Tuesday that the elections "fulfill two goals: a solution to the political crisis and a return to democratic order." Varela said Panama would recognize the results "as long as they (the elections) are held in a transparent way and with the aim of reconciling Hondurans."

Zelaya was ousted after going ahead with plans for a referendum on overhauling the constitution despite a Supreme Court order ruling that vote illegal. His opponents argued he wanted to lift the ban on re-election, a charge he denies.