Zelaya to travel to Honduras with Latam leaders

Other News Materials 1 July 2009 02:17 (UTC +04:00)

Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya said on Tuesday the leaders of Argentina and Ecuador and the heads of the U.N. General Assembly and the Organization of American States would join him on a return trip to Honduras on Thursday, Reuters reported.

"I'm going back to Honduras on Thursday, I'm going to return as president," Zelaya told a news conference at the United Nations, after addressing the General Assembly.

The assembly earlier called on its 192 member states to recognize only Zelaya's government, underlining the isolation of the Honduran armed forces and the interim administration appointed by Congress after the coup in the Central American country.

Zelaya, flown to Costa Rica on Sunday by the Honduran military, said he had the backing of the entire international community, and he expected the military to change its position upon his return and support him.

He said the General Assembly president, Miguel D'Escoto, had promised to fly back to Honduras with him, along with Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and OAS chief Jose Miguel Insulza.

Asked what would guarantee his security in Honduras, he said: "The blood of Christ, my convictions, my conduct during my entire life and the people on the streets." He later said he did not want to provoke violence.

Honduras' interim foreign minister, Enrique Ortez, said on Tuesday Zelaya would be arrested if he returns.

Zelaya said he intended to finish his current mandate, ending in January, and would not run for office again. He was expelled from the country after trying to change the constitution to let presidents seek re-election beyond a single four-year term -- a move opposed by Congress, the courts and the army.

In reply to a reporter who asked if he would not be president ever again, he said: "No, never."

Asked about his role after his current mandate expires, Zelaya, a logging magnate, said, "I will return to a civilian life and not to politics, life with my family."

Zelaya, who took office in 2006, earlier delivered a rambling speech to the assembly in which he defended his record and his bid to have the constitution changed, and recounted how he was taken from his bed by soldiers on Sunday and put on a plane in his nightwear.

Zelaya,who is viewed by his critics in Honduras as too close to socialist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, said he had only tried to improve the lot of his country's poor but had been treated harshly by the Honduran army and business elite that has run the country for decades.

"No-one has put me on trial. No-one has called me to a court to defend myself, no-one has told me what the crime is," he said.

The General Assembly resolution followed a string of condemnations of the coup by foreign leaders from Chavez to U.S. President Barack Obama.

Passed by consensus, the resolution condemned what it called a coup d'etat and demanded "the immediate and unconditional restoration of the legitimate and constitutional government" of Zelaya.

It said the assembly "decides to call firmly and categorically on all states to recognize no government other than that" of Zelaya.

The resolution was co-sponsored by a group of Latin American and Caribbean states joined by several others including the United States.

The resolution was watered down from an earlier draft that said the assembly itself "decides to recognize no government other than that" of Zelaya, rather than the eventual slightly weaker call to member states to recognize only Zelaya.

General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, unlike those of the U.N. Security Council.