Honduras. A serious political crisis broke out in Honduras on June 28, when incumbent President Manuel Zelaya was deposed in a military coup, the same day a referendum on a possible change of the constitution to allow longer terms of office would have been held. According to countryaah, Zelaya was put under arms threat on an aircraft and flown to Costa Rica, and Congress President Roberto Micheletti took over the presidency at the head of a “national unity government.”
The incident culminated in a multi-year process in which Zelaya sought to dismantle the country’s traditional political structure, dominated by the two right-wing parties Partido Liberal de Honduras (PLH) and Partido Nacional de Honduras (PNH). The triggering factor was that Zelaya on June 24 dismissed the commander-in-chief General Vásquez Velásquez because of his refusal to assist in the conduct of the referendum. The civil opposition claimed Zelaya’s own violation of the constitution as the cause of the action, which, however, was strictly not true. For example, referendums are explicitly sanctioned by the current constitution.
Noteworthy was that the Supreme Court gave its support to the military coup. The opposition also expressed concerns about Zelaya’s possible plans to change the constitution so that he could be re-elected as president, which would never have been announced before the next presidential election held November 29.
The international reaction was unambiguous. The UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling for Zelaya’s immediate and unconditional reinstatement of office, and the United States Cooperative Organization OAS gave Honduras the ultimatum to reinstate Zelaya within 72 hours or be excluded from the organization. Zelaya was smuggled in from Nicaragua on September 21 and took refuge in the Brazilian embassy in the capital Tegucigalpa, from where he continued his campaign to return unconditionally to the presidential office.
On October 30, such an agreement, the so-called San José-Tegucigalpa Agreement, was believed to have been reached between Zelaya and the coup makers, with the effect that Congress and the Supreme Court would decide whether Zelaya would return before the November 29 presidential election; otherwise, an interim government would lead the country to the elections. However, Zelaya withdrew from the agreement and urged its supporters to boycott the election when it emerged that the head of the “national unity government” Micheletti had appointed himself head of government.
The election, which took place without serious incidents and with a high turnout, was won by Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo from PNH with 56 percent of the votes cast. But Congress’s decision a few days later not to reinstate Zelaya for the remainder of his term until January 27, 2010, but to leave Micheletti seated, cast a deep shadow over Lobo’s legitimacy. Even in the congressional elections, PNH made great gains.