The conclusions of the emergency Organization of American State (OAS) meeting held yesterday in Washington regarding the coup d'etat in Honduras resulted in the suspension of President Zelaya's declared return to the country for another 72 hours. Zelaya had announced on Monday that he would return this Thursday, July 2nd, to reclaim his constitutional position as President of Honduras, after a military coup ousted him violently on early Sunday morning and forced him into exile in Costa Rica. The OAS members issued an ultimatum to the coup government in Tegucigalpa, headed by Roberto Micheletti, former head of Congress, who has now evolved into Honduras' first dictator since 1979. The regional body, comprised of all nations in the Americas, except for Cuba, has informed Micheletti's illegal government that it has 72 hours to step down or face suspension from the OAS and regional - as well as international - isolation. Micheletti, who enjoys the strong support of Honduras' armed forces, the majority trained, schooled and funded by the United States, has vowed he will not step down from the office he has long desired and has now illegally usurped after Sunday's coup.
Sub-Secretary of State, Thomas Shannon, attending the OAS meeting in Washington yesterday, confirmed that Manuel Zelaya is the "legal and constitutional" president of Honduras, but still stopped short of clarifying the U.S. government's position regarding the coup d'etat and Zelaya's unconditional return to power. The US has signed on to the OAS statement, but this is not the same as Washington legally and officially declaring on its own terms that a coup d'etat has occurred and that it will only recognize the government of Zelaya as legitimate. OAS resolutions, similar to UN General Assembly resolutions, are not legally binding.
Here is the OAS Resolution, available at www.oas.org:
RESOLUTION ON THE POLITICAL CRISIS IN HONDURAS
(Adopted at the plenary session, held on July 1, 2009 and
pending to be revised by the Style Committee)
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY,
GRAVELY CONCERNED about the political crisis in the Republic of Honduras as a result of the coup d’état against the government of President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, which has produced an unconstitutional alteration of the democratic order;
RECALLING Permanent Council resolutions CP/RES. 952 (1699/09) of June 26, 2009 and CP/RES. 953 (1700/09) of June 28, 2009, regarding the situation in Honduras;
CONVENED urgently by the Permanent Council in accordance with Article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter;
REITERATING the principles and purposes established in the Charter of the Organization of American States and the Inter-American Democratic Charter on the strengthening and preservation of the democratic institutional system in member states, as well as the importance of strict adherence to and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the principle of nonintervention in the internal affairs of other states; and
TAKING NOTE of the declarations by international organizations, sub-regional groups, and governments of the member states,
1. To condemn vehemently the coup d’état staged against the constitutionally established Government of Honduras, and the arbitrary detention and expulsion from the country of the constitutional president José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, which has produced an unconstitutional alteration of the democratic order.
2. To reaffirm that President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales is the constitutional President of Honduras and to demand the immediate, safe, and unconditional return of the President to his constitutional functions.
3. To declare that no government arising from this unconstitutional interruption will be recognized, and to reaffirm that the representatives designated by the constitutional and legitimate government of President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales are the representatives of the Honduran State to the Organization of American States.
4. To instruct the Secretary General to undertake, together with representatives of various countries, diplomatic initiatives aimed at restoring democracy and the rule of law and the reinstatement of President Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales, pursuant to Article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter and report to the Special General Assembly on the results of the initiatives. Should these prove unsuccessful within 72 hours, the Special General Assembly shall forthwith invoke Article 21 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter to suspend Honduras’ membership.
5. To extend this special session of the General Assembly until July 6, 2009.