Army asked to secure Congress. Fear of Violent Intervention
HONDURAS 23rd June 2009
The President of Congress, Roberto Micheletti, has called for the Army to
protect members of Congress ahead of a final debate on the Plebiscite Bill
at 4:00pm today.
Micheletti, a former allay of President Manuel Zelaya, has openly accused
the President of planning continue in his role after his term ends,
replacing the Honduran Constitution with one written in Venezuela and paying
“thugs” to disrupt Congress through violent acts.
There have been three incidents to date where the Congress has been invaded
and Micheletti has stated that, "I'm going to protect the lives of
parliamentarians within my powers and obviously with the support of the
The battle over the Fourth Ballot will be won or lost this week. President
Zelaya’s Fourth Ballot Referendum, which has been deemed illegal by the
Court, is due to be held this Sunday. The President has ordered the Military
to support the Ballot, yet the Supreme Court has ordered the Military to
stand down and not support the “illegal Ballot”.
As is, Honduras does not have a legal provision for Referendums and the
debate in Congress is to allow for such a facility. However, the Referendum
Bill will only act as a consultation to determine the will of the people.
This does not satisfy the desire of President Zelaya due to the fact that a
“yes” vote in a legal referendum does not have the legal weight desired and
would not start a process for a new Constitution etc...
Top General Romeo Orlando Vasquez Velasquez, when asked whether the court
had notified him that would be illegal to participate in the consultation
Sunday, said: "we must remember that I am not the commander of the Armed
Forces. I am the head of the Joint Staff, the Commander of the Armed Forces
is the President. ".
The ambiguity in such statements have added to the tension. Further, closed
door meetings between different groups of Armed Forces Generals have churned
rumors of the removal of dissenting Generals. There are also thoughts of a
Coup de’Etat that would remove the President and place power into the hands
of the Congress.
There are published reports of extreme pressure being placed on Citizens to
support the Fourth Ballot including the refusal of medical care in Hospitals
unless the patient signs a declaration of support for the Ballot. Also,
employees in the Public Sector are being threatened with dismissal if their
support is not given.
Public support for the Fourth Ballot seems very limited. An online poll at
the website www.cuartaurna.com is suggesting that only 20% of Hondurans
agree that the Referendum should take place and offers a 19% approval rating
for President Zelaya.
With just five days left before the planned Referendum there is little time
left for positioning. With Micheletti moving away from the President,
Liberal Presidential Candidate Elvin Santos stating the illegality of the
Referendum and very limited public support, Manuel Zelaya will need strong
intervention to complete his plan for the Fourth Ballot.