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Coup’s Pre-Election Maneuvering in Full Swing

November 20, 2009

Two articles: 

The first concerns the coup regime’s intention to “disarm” citizens before the polls. This has all sorts of bad possibilities such as pre-emptive custody, illegal searches, and planting guns where their were none.  And, of course, through this disarm project, the regime is re-casting a Resistance movement that has been non-violent for 150 days into gun-toting thugs.

The second article is about Micheletti suggesting he may step down from the “presidency” from November 25 to December 2 so that everyone can concentrate solely on the election. Well, it sure would be more comfortable for the US to proudly endorse the result of the election if blustery Bobby was on vacation.  Yet, his “checking out” may be to create plausible deniability in a couple of key areas:  if there are allegations of voting fraud and if the Honduran military/Honduran police go super rogue — neither of which is beyond the realm of possibility.

Stay tuned.

Honduras regime seeks to disarm citizens ahead of polls

(AFP) – 49 minutes ago

TEGUCIGALPA — The Honduran de facto regime on Friday ordered citizens to turn in their weapons in a bid to avert violence around disputed presidential elections to be held at the end of the month.

Ousted President Manuel Zelaya has called on his supporters to boycott the November 29 national elections after crisis talks failed to restore him to power beforehand — in order to finish his single term that ends in January.

The interim regime led by Roberto Micheletti said it would disarm citizens who risked disrupting the elections in a nation where violent street gangs operate with many weapons left over from decades of civil wars in the region.

“We’ve agreed a general disarmament from November 23 so that no one will harm the lives of others or provoke other actions against the electoral process,” Press Minister Pineda Ponce told local television.

The disarmament would include temporary confiscations from people who held weapon permits, Ponce said.

Zelaya has called for street protests — which have been met with military crackdowns — since he was sent away from the presidency in his pajamas on June 28. He has been besieged in the Brazilian embassy since secretly returning in September.

Micheletti said Thursday he would briefly step down from November 25 to December 2 in an apparent bid to boost the international legitimacy of the polls.

The United States, the country’s main military and economic backer, and Panama have said they will support the polls, but regional powerhouses Brazil and Argentina have said they will not recognize the results.

The Honduran Congress and Supreme Court, business leaders and the military all backed Zelaya’s ouster, accusing him of seeking to change the constitution to stay in office beyond the one-term limit.”

Honduran de facto leader Roberto Micheletti gestures on September 17, 2009 in Tegucigalpa.

Honduras interim leader may step down. Will that help President Zelaya?

Honduras interim leader announced Thursday he intends to leave the presidency for about a week. But ousted President Zelaya is no closer to getting back in.

By Mike Faulk | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
and Sara Miller Llana | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

from the November 20, 2009 edition

Tegucigalpa, Honduras and Mexico City – For months, ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya – with the backing of the world community – has demanded that Roberto Micheletti step down as the interim president of this Central American nation roiled in political conflict.

Thursday evening, he may have gotten his wish: Mr. Micheletti told the nation that he will likely leave the presidency to allow voters to concentrate on upcoming presidential elections Nov. 29.

But his leave, which would only be temporary, has done little to appease supporters of Mr. Zelaya, nor is it likely to sway the opinion of countries that have said they will refuse to acknowledge election results without Zelaya first in office. (The biggest loser in the Honduras political crisis? Its economy.)

“He says he’s stepping down, but he’s really just leaving the country without a president for a week,” says Rasel Tome, an adviser to Zelaya. “It’s a vile trick he’s playing on Honduras and the international community. It’s a farce. This is still a coup.”

On Thursday evening, in a national broadcast, Micheletti said that he could step down from Nov. 25 to Dec. 2, when the Honduran Congress is expected to vote on whether to allow Zelaya to return to office – part of a deal brokered by the US.

“My purpose with this measure is for the attention of all Hondurans to concentrate on the electoral process and not on the political crisis,” Micheletti said in a statement, promising to return to office should a national security threat arise. He did not say who, or if another president, will govern in his absence, only that his cabinet will operate “normally.”

Zelaya, who has been stuck in the Brazilian Embassy after he snuck back into Honduras Sept. 21, immediately called Micheletti’s announcement a ruse. Zelaya was kicked out of the country in June for pushing forward with a nonbinding referendum to explore constitutional change. His critics say he was intending to scrap presidential term limits, forbidden under the current Constitution. He has denied the allegation.

Lawmakers stall on Zelaya vote

Zelaya has said he will not recognize the Nov. 29 elections and has also warned he will not retake the presidency if Congress votes on his restoration after election day, as lawmakers have said they intend to do. Zelaya has called for elections to be postponed.

Under a US-brokered deal, Zelaya had initially agreed to allow Congress to decide his fate, but Honduran lawmakers, who were not bound to a deadline under the agreement, have stalled on making a decision. Zelaya has since pulled out of the agreement.

Some on the streets of Tegucigalpa support Micheletti’s decision. “I don’t support Micheletti or Zelaya, but I think Micheletti is acting in the best interests of our country,” says Edgar Coella, standing with friends outside a downtown hotel. “[It] shows he’s not interested in power. What he wants is peace.”

Juan Santos, a resident of Tegucigalpa, says he hopes that Micheletti’s move will encourage the international community to recognize elections and heal divides between those who support and oppose events in Honduras. “[Micheletti] just didn’t want any more problems,” he says.

Yet Micheletti’s decision will probably sway public opinion. The US has said it plans to recognize the Nov. 29 vote since both sides agreed to the terms of the deal, but countries such as Argentina and Brazil have promised they will not.

“It might give a fig leaf for certain countries already so inclined to recognize the election,” says Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas, a consultancy based in New York. “But otherwise I’m not sure it’ll have a dramatic impact, because the key question has always been Zelaya’s status, not Micheletti’s. So long as the Congress won’t vote on his return until after the election, the step by Micheletti is more for PR than a serious way to move the discussions forward.”

  1. E. Ferrari permalink
    November 20, 2009 8:15 PM

    Hermanita. I apologize for being late but if the Pinochetis are disarming the people, experience tells us they themselves are planning violence.

    Do we need a phone campaign?

    • November 22, 2009 5:48 PM

      I apologize for not getting your comment up sooner, companera. I agree, it looks like the confiscation of weaponse was a clear signal that state-sponsored repression is going to be tough. The election is simply the excuse for using the repression. Like Haiti, it’s a numbers game in which all the usurper can do is whittle down the number of the people in the opposition whenever it has a chance. While what the Honduran people went through in the past 5 months was horrible, I fear the next week will be in a whole new category.

      Regarding a phone campaign, I guess I’ve lost my enthusiasm for that along with letters and protests, all in an attempt to get the US to quit their imperialist ways. The fight against the Michelettis cannont remain non-violent forever and until the Resistance comes to such a decision, its members are nothing but targets in the streets.

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