Zelaya returned to power

posted at 8:48 am on October 30, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Now we know why John Kerry demanded that the Law Library of Congress withdraw its report declaring the removal of Manuel Zelaya from the Honduran presidency legal, weeks after the issuance of the report.  Honduras, under new pressure from the US, has agreed to allow Zelaya to return as president to the Central American nation under an agreement announced this morning.  However, there is one piece of good news, assuming Zelaya keeps his word:

The interim government of Honduras has yielded to international pressure and agreed to allow the return to power of Manuel Zelaya, the ousted President who was toppled in a military coup four months ago.

The breakthrough came after renewed pressure from senior US officials who travelled to Honduras this week for a last-ditch effort to end the crisis.

“It is a triumph for Honduran democracy,” said Mr Zelaya after the rival sides agreed to a deal under which he may be reinstated as President within days.

Well, no, it’s actually not a triumph for Honduran democracy.  The parliament in Tegulcigapa had voted unanimously for his removal after Zelaya attempted to violate the nation’s constitution and fake a referendum vote, for which ample evidence existed.  It’s actually a triumph for American interventionalism, which this administration pretended to eschew.  So much for a humble foreign policy.

The problem should be short-lived, however (emphasis mine):

Mr Micheletti said that Mr Zelaya could return to office after a vote in Congress that would be authorised by the country’s Supreme Court. He said that the deal would require both sides to recognise the result of a presidential election due to take place on November 29 and would transfer control of the army to the top electoral court.

The United States, the European Union and Latin American leaders had all demanded that Mr Zelaya be allowed to finish his presidential term, which ends in January. They had said that they might not recognise the winner of the November election unless democracy was first restored.

Zelaya had attempted to use the army to promulgate his illegal referendum on allowing presidents to seek more than one term, with ballots stashed for the purpose.  Now he won’t have any authority over the army at all, which will temporarily take its orders from the court.  Meanwhile, the elections that even Zelaya’s own party wanted will go forward, without Zelaya able to seek a second term (and without Micheletti as well).  In other words, he may be president, but he’s already a lame duck — with a very, very hostile parliament to boot.

Rumor has it that Zelaya initially refused to sign the agreement, and that he had to be prodded to do so.  It’s not hard to see why.  He gets to return home, but essentially gets to sit in an office for a few weeks and do nothing.  Assuming he doesn’t lead some sort of coup d’etat himself on his return to Honduras, which would make the Obama administration look even more inept in this circumstance, Zelaya is out of power for good.

Update: Be sure to read Fausta’s roundup from the region.

Update II: Law Library of Congress to John Kerry: Pound sand.


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