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New Honduras Government Resists International Pressure


The new president in Honduras is rejecting international pressure to allow the return of President Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted by military forces on Sunday. Mr. Zelaya is meeting with Latin American heads of state in Nicaragua to demand that the new government step down.

Former congressional president Roberto Micheletti is facing growing pressure from foreign governments one day after he took the oath of office as president in Honduras. Micheletti said Monday that his new government is not afraid of anyone, and asked for respect for the country so it could prepare for general elections in November.

Several Latin American blocs and foreign governments, including the United States, have called for President Manuel Zelaya to be returned to power. The Organization of American States said it would not recognize any government that does not include Mr. Zelaya.

The ousted leader said masked soldiers woke him at his home in Tegucigalpa early Sunday and forced him onto a plane to Costa Rica. Monday, Zelaya was in Nicaragua for a meeting of Latin American leaders, including Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez.

Mr. Chavez said he and other leaders wanted to send a message to the new government in Honduras, that it was surrounded and it should surrender before it is too late.

Mexico's government offered diplomatic protection to the Honduran Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas, who was briefly held by Honduran forces before leaving the country. After arriving in Mexico City, she told reporters that ousting President Zelaya was a crime.

Rodas said the coup was illegal, but all sides needed to find a way to resolve the situation for the sake of the Honduran people and for democracy. She said the world should not allow illegal coups to take place.

The United Nations held a special session in New York, where delegates offered support to the ousted president. The Honduran ambassador Jorge Arturo Reina called on the world body to help restore order in the Central American nation.

Reina said U.N. member states should demand that President Zelaya be allowed to return to his post, as he was elected by the Honduran people.

Mr. Zelaya has denied reports that he sent a resignation letter to congress before leaving the country. Micheletti said a judicial order was issued, allowing military forces to remove Mr. Zelaya from power for a series of alleged illegal acts. The military intervention took place early Sunday, when the president was planning to hold a referendum, which the Supreme Court had ruled was illegal.

Witnesses said Honduran military forces remained on guard in some parts of the capital, including the presidential palace. Micheletti said military forces were needed to respond to possible disturbances, and said they would return to their barracks as soon as possible.

In Miami, small groups of Hondurans gathered to call for support for the country's new president. At a press conference Monday, community organizer Jose Lagos spoke by telephone with Micheletti to relay the support.

"So we are calling on Hondurans to remain calm," he said. "And we are calling for support for Roberto Micheletti, to allow him to govern accordingly."

Supporters of the new president in Miami say many Hondurans were unhappy with President Zelaya, partly because he was not doing enough to combat poverty in the country.

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