Honduran Election Jeopardy

November 17, 2009

By Padmini Arhant

The political situation in Honduras has evolved into a constitutional crisis with the upcoming national elections scheduled on November 29, 2009. President Manuel Zelaya, a democratically elected head of the state was ousted through a military coup approved by the Honduran Congress on the premise that the deposed leader allegedly attempted to subvert the constitution to remain in power.

Meanwhile, the self-appointed interim President Roberto Micheletti has not wasted any time in demonstrating the monstrosity of a typical military coup since seizing power in June, 2009. In a bizarre twist to the political fiasco, the Congress and the military regime are in breach of the constitution they were proposing to defend against the Zelaya government. Hondurans plight has worsened with the political unrest and contrarily solidified the support for the legitimate Zelaya leadership.

To add insult to injury, the U.S. State Department intervened in a manner to broker the open-end ‘Tegucigalpa San Jose Accord’ on October 29, 2009 without any stipulations or deadline.

According to the Associated Press release on date – Martha Mendoza in Mexico City

“The accord calls for the formation of a national unity government, but does not require Zelaya’s restoration to office, leaving that decision up to Congress. It set no deadline for lawmakers to vote.
Honduran lawmakers will not decide whether to restore ousted President Manuel Zelaya until after upcoming presidential elections, the congressional leader said Tuesday, a decision that could undermine international support for the vote.

The administration of President Barack Obama has repeatedly said that recognition of the election is not linked to any one action, said State Department spokesman Charles Luoma-Overstreet.

Several Latin American countries have warned they will not recognize the outcome of the election unless Zelaya is restored beforehand.

But the United States has not ruled out restoring diplomatic ties with a newly elected Honduran government even if Zelaya remains out of power through the vote.

Zelaya declared the pact a failure two weeks ago when Micheletti announced the formation of a unity government before Congress had voted, accusing the interim leader of maneuvering to stay in power.”
Analysis – By Padmini Arhant

It’s apparent to any reasonable mind that the U.S. State department’s haphazard mediation has exacerbated the turmoil in the absence of specificity and clarity not to mention the weakening of the United States status to resolve international issues.

In perspective, the precise solutions to the Honduran political climax is for the interim coup leader Roberto Micheletti to acknowledge the reality and gracefully step aside by allowing the democratically preferred President Manuel Zelaya to resume office until the end of his elected term – January 2010.

As for the Honduran Congress, the actions or the lack thereof strongly suggest their undermining of the constitution they were elected to protect and honor in a democracy. Therefore, it’s incumbent on the Congress as elected representatives to comply with the popular demand and reinstate the Zelaya Presidency that would ensure the political stability right now. Furthermore, within the constitutional framework President Manuel Zelaya should be able to seek re-election provided there is a populace support for the process.

Nevertheless, the military coup under Roberto Micheletti and the Honduran Congress has violated the constitution more than the purported effort by President Manuel Zelaya.

Restoring democracy in Honduras is paramount for political security in the Western hemisphere, considering the precarious economic conditions affecting the majority in the region. The Latin American nations’ decision to denounce the Congress vote and the electoral result is appropriate due to the prevalent undemocratic events thus far.

President Manuel Zelaya is the democratically elected leader and constitutionally justified to govern the nation effective immediately and the forces in defiant of the democratic values are worthy of condemnation notwithstanding their removal from office.

The people of Honduras have displayed tremendous fortitude in rejecting the military takeover and the regional solidarity has been instrumental in containing the unaffordable calamity.

I convey my best wishes to the people of Honduras and encourage them to remain unified in preserving freedom and democracy.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant

Honduran Crisis

June 29, 2009

By Padmini Arhant

The military coup’s pre-emptive action in the overthrow of the democratically elected President
Manuel Zelaya allegedly tampering with the state constitution in an effort to extend his government rule attracted worldwide condemnation demanding the reinstatement of the ousted President to restore peace and order in the nation.

It appears from the news reports that democracy jeopardized by the military coup as well as the ousted President Manuel Zelaya and subsequently Congress in a swift reaction with their appointee, Roberto Micheletti as the interim President until January 27, 2010.  Honduras crisis has emerged in the wake of the impending 2009 democratic election.

Central America has been subject to military coups in the past that has debilitated the economy in that region and the functional democracies in the recent decades promoted stability much required for the economic and political progress in the American states.

President Barack Obama has effectively conveyed the message by rejecting the status quo in Honduras – “a terrible precedent for military coups as a means of political transition rather than democratic elections.”

The appropriate action for the Congress would be to reinstate the ousted President Manuel Zelaya currently exiled in Costa Rica. It’s important for democracy to prevail in the nation due for a democratic election in November 2009.  Any desirable changes must occur through democratic process accompanied by a political mandate in accordance with the state constitution.

Meanwhile, the Presidential appointee Roberto Micheletti expected to oblige democracy by gracefully inviting the incumbent President Manuel Zelaya to resume power until the new President assumes office through scheduled democratic elections in November 2009.

Further, it’s imperative for the current President Manuel Zelaya to respect the constitutional rule of law and the nation’s highest judiciary power, the Supreme Court by refraining from any amendments to the constitutional clause barring extension or excessive use of Presidential power through referendums or any other means.

The people of Honduras and the nations in the Western Hemisphere deserve peace and order after prolonged political instability brought upon through internal and external military coups until the dawn of the twenty first century.

If the latest attempts by all parties sharing equal responsibility in the existing political chaos was to defend the state constitution, then a serious constitutional breach committed with the Congress approval of the aggressive military coup enabling the democratic disruption in progress.

Undemocratic measures do not serve the intended purpose to protect the constitution limiting the democratically elected President to one-term governance. In fact, democracy challenged when the nation’s armed forces intervene in the political process. The defense force is traditionally and exclusively responsible to defend the nation against potential threats and attacks from any sources, not an auxiliary for political transformation.

According to news releases thus far, there is no evidence of President Manuel Zelaya using violent practices for the purported referendum to extend his rule beyond the constitutional limit.

Although, such initiative best averted through democratic protocol laid in the constitution for peaceful resolution of similar situations i.e. Congress representing the people in a democracy overwhelmingly ruling against the ‘apparently’ undesirable ballot measure.

Central and Latin America cannot afford any political turmoil in the region and therefore the people of Honduras deserve a non-violent and amicable solution to the present political problem with the Congress repeal of the militarily deposed President Manuel Zelaya and establish law and order in the nation.

Honduran Congress’ inaction in this respect could exacerbate the brewing tension with the neighbors and international community at large as a result of the self-imposed political crisis.

On that note, I wish the people of Honduras and the entire Central, Latin and South American nations long overdue peace, progress and prosperity.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant