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OAS Issues Ultimatum to Honduras to Restore Deposed President

The Organization of American States has issued a stern ultimatum to the leaders of the military coup in Honduras.

Members of the 34-nation grouping of hemispheric nations held an emergency meeting at its headquarters in the U.S. capital to discuss the overthrow of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. After several hours of talks, including a meeting with Mr. Zelaya himself, OAS Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza emerged from the OAS headquarters, Wednesday morning, and delivered a message to the coup leaders - reinstate Mr. Zelaya, or face suspension from the organization.

The OAS ultimatum came after the 192-member United Nations General Assembly voted unanimously, Tuesday, to denounce the coup and deny recognition to any government except Mr. Zelaya's. The ousted president addressed the world body after the vote and denounced the coup.

"A number of charges have been leveled against your humble servant in Honduras," Zelaya said. "But I have not been put on trial. I have not been called to the stand to defend myself. Nobody has told me what my crime is. Nobody has indicated what my errors [are], no accusations have been brought to my attention by any judge."

Mr. Zelaya was deposed last Sunday, the same day a referendum was to be held on his plans to reform the Honduran constitution. Critics accused him of seeking to alter the nation's charter so he could run for a second term as president. But Mr. Zelaya is pledging to leave office when his term officially ends in January 2010.

The ousted president says he will return to his native soil later this week, accompanied by his Argentinean and Ecuadorean counterparts. Mr. Zelaya also says Mr. Insulza and Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, the president of the U.N. General Assembly, will accompany him.

The interim government is defying the international condemnation over Mr. Zelaya's ouster and says it will arrest him if he returns to Honduras. Interim President Roberto Micheletti says there is only one way Mr. Zelaya will return to power.

"He had already violated the constitution and the laws, he cannot return as the president of this country, unless a president from a Latin American country puts him there forcibly by arms," Micheletti said.

Mr. Micheletti says Honduras is prepared to defend itself from any foreign invasion.