As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Showdown In Tegucigalpa

The Organization of American States unanimously demanded the return of Mel Zelaya to the Presidency in Honduras, and gave the new government three days to do so. If they refuse, they will be suspended from the organization. The US has put joint military exercises in Honduras on hold. The UN resolved not to recognize the coup-backed government. And Mel Zelaya will head back to the country:

The two presidents of Honduras were headed on a collision course Tuesday, as the president ousted by a coup vowed to return and his replacement threatened to arrest him the minute he lands.

Neither side seemed willing to bend in a looming confrontation that is the first test of the Obama administration's diplomacy and clout in the hemisphere.

Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, removed from office Sunday in a military-led coup, addressed the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Tuesday and said he would fly back to Honduras on Thursday, accompanied by the head of the Organization of American States.

But the newly appointed interim president of Honduras, Roberto Micheletti, warned that if Zelaya returns, he will be arrested, tried and sent to prison for years. Micheletti's claim on the presidency is seen as illegitimate by the international community.

The situation is somewhat complex - referenda of the kind that Zelaya sought have questionable legality in the Honduran system, and sadly, the military runs elections. But the real problem here is the lack of a legislative check on the Presidency. If a President falls from favor with the representative Congress, they have no means, through impeachment, of removing him. There's nothing constitutional about rousting the President from his bed at gunpoint, sending him to the airfield in pajamas and flying him out of the country. But there's no remedy to a Constitutional crisis of the type that supporters of the coup, at least, feel they had with Zelaya's call for a referendum that they say would eventually increase Presidential term limits.

This sounds like a compromise:

As the rally was underway, a small, anxious but growing group of Honduran lawmakers sought to build a coalition to endorse a compromise measure to allow for Zelaya's return. According to one participant in the talks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of derailing the negotiations, the compromise would include a general amnesty for everyone involved, including the coup leaders and members of the military, while Zelaya would have to abandon his plan to hold a referendum that could lead to a change in the Honduran constitution.

One four-year term sounds a little constricting for a President, but Zelaya shouldn't necessarily be allowed to orchestrate his own hold on power. Of course, the point of a referendum is that the people decide, so I'm not seeing the dictatorial nature of it. I guess the military is saving the people from themselves.

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