US President Barack Obama said he was deeply concerned after the Honduran military swooped in on elected President Manuel Zelaya's home and sent him off to Costa Rica and exile. Hours later the Honduran Congress voted in an interim leader, Roberto Micheletti, who imposed a 48 hour curfew. Obama was joined by his Venezuelan buddy Hugo Chavez in condemning the takeover.
'Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, also in the Nicaraguan capital, vowed to do "everything that is necessary in political, diplomatic, social and moral aspects to restore the government of Manuel Zelaya".
In Honduras however, Micheletti brushed off worldwide condemnation of the takeover.
He "had came to the presidency not by a coup d'etat but by a completely legal process as set out in our laws," he said. The curfew would end on Tuesday, he added.
Zelaya's overthrow was triggered by a standoff between the president and the military and legal institutions over his bid to secure a second term.
Congress said it had voted unanimously to remove the president from office for "apparent misconduct" and "repeated violations of the constitution and the law and disregard of orders and judgments of the institutions".
Micheletti was appointed to serve out the rest of the term, which ends in January. New general elections are planned for November 29.
Zelaya, elected to a non-renewable four-year term in 2005, had planned a vote Sunday asking Hondurans to sanction a referendum to allow him to stand again in the November polls.
The referendum had been ruled illegal by Honduras's top court and was opposed by the military, but Zelaya vowed to go ahead. The Supreme Court said Sunday that it had ordered the president's ouster to protect law and order in the nation of some seven million people.'
Zelaya fired military chief, General Romeo Vasquez after military commanders refused to distribute ballot boxes for the referendum. The Honduran Supreme Court turned around and voted unanimously to reinstate Vasquez.
Meanwhile Washington is working with other members of the Organization of American States on a consensus resolution to condemn the coup, but at the same time a senior U.S. State Department official warned that Honduras should not be "interfered with bilaterally by any country in the Americas".
Update: The Wall Street Journal has more. It seems Hillary Clinton is siding with the lefty.
That Mr. Zelaya acted as if he were above the law, there is no doubt. While Honduran law allows for a constitutional rewrite, the power to open that door does not lie with the president. A constituent assembly can only be called through a national referendum approved by its Congress.
But Mr. Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had Mr. Chávez ship him the necessary ballots from Venezuela. The Supreme Court ruled his referendum unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics of the vote as it normally would do.
The top military commander, Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, told the president that he would have to comply. Mr. Zelaya promptly fired him. The Supreme Court ordered him reinstated. Mr. Zelaya refused.
Calculating that some critical mass of Hondurans would take his side, the president decided he would run the referendum himself. So on Thursday he led a mob that broke into the military installation where the ballots from Venezuela were being stored and then had his supporters distribute them in defiance of the Supreme Court's order.
The attorney general had already made clear that the referendum was illegal, and he further announced that he would prosecute anyone involved in carrying it out. Yesterday, Mr. Zelaya was arrested by the military and is now in exile in Costa Rica.
It remains to be seen what Mr. Zelaya's next move will be. It's not surprising that chavistas throughout the region are claiming that he was victim of a military coup. They want to hide the fact that the military was acting on a court order to defend the rule of law and the constitution, and that the Congress asserted itself for that purpose, too.
Mrs. Clinton has piled on as well. Yesterday she accused Honduras of violating "the precepts of the Interamerican Democratic Charter" and said it "should be condemned by all." Fidel Castro did just that. Mr. Chávez pledged to overthrow the new government.
So, will the Obama administration will stand by its rhetorical campaign pledges about adhering to the rule of law? It would appear the Honduran Supreme Court, Congress, Attorney General, and military all acted within Honduran law, Unfortunately, the U.S. State Department doesn't care for the outcome. If Hillary's actions are any indication, and they should be, the Obama administration would prefer the rise of a leftist dictator in Honduras. What a sad state of affairs, should Obama decide that the hypothetical outcome of an illegal election that hasn't happened reflects "will of the Honduran people," and actively works to restore the aspiring dictator to power.