President Obama said yesterday at the Three Amigos Summit that “we have been very clear in our belief that President Zelaya was removed from office illegally, that it was a coup and that he should return.”
The only problem was that Zelaya’s removal from the office of President of Honduras was completely legal. Constitutional lawyer Miguel Estrada raised this issue in a July 10 Los Angeles Times piece. Article 239 of the Honduran Constitution says:
“No citizen who has already served as head of the Executive Branch can be President or Vice-President.
Whoever violates this law or proposes its reform, as well as those that support such violation directly or indirectly, will immediately cease in their functions and will be unable to hold any public office for a period of 10 years.”
Zelaya tried to pass a referendum that would have allowed for him to run for re-election in November. The Supreme Court of Honduras then issued a warrant for his arrest that the military carried out on behalf of the Court. The Honduran Congress affirmed the transition of power with a 122-6 vote. That’s not a coup; that is an organized system of checks and balances in a democracy. The Obama administration might not want to be perceived as flip-flopping on this issue — but it seems the State Department must at some point recognize its mistake and back the rule of law over the slide towards dictatorship.
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