Caribbean condemns ousting of Honduras president

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, June 29, 2009 – Caribbean leaders have been swift to condemn the military coup that removed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya from office yesterday, and have called for his immediate return.

Zelaya was taken from his home by army troops in the early hours and whisked away on a plane to Costa Rica as the Honduras army took over the country. He was ousted a day before today’s scheduled referendum on constitutional changes.

The Jamaica has described the actions as a breach of the principles of respect for the rule of law, human rights and constitutional order and said it maintains its full support for and recognition of President Zelaya.

In a statement issued after the Organisation of American States (OAS) Permanent Council, which met in a special session following Zelaya’s removal, called for his safe and immediate return, the Jamaica government also expressed deep concern that a number of government officials and diplomatic representatives have been detained and may have been physically harmed.

“We deplore the violence and call upon the perpetrators to desist from these actions so that normalcy can be restored to the country for the benefit of the people of Honduras,” it said in a statement. “In accordance with the relevant provisions of the OAS Charter and the Inter-American Democratic Charter, we affirm our support for the OAS to contribute to restoring normalcy to the country and for the use of the good office of the OAS Secretary General.”

Trinidad’s Prime Minister Patrick Manning  “urged all parties involved in Honduras to have recourse to the mechanisms within the Inter American system to resolve differences”, noting that the ousting of President Zelaya “clearly affects the development of that country’s democratic political institutional process and the legitimate exercise of power”.

Adding his voice to the condemnation, Grenada’s Prime Minister Tillman Thomas insisted that the will of the Honduran people must be respected and called on the military to exercise restraint and allow the people to freely express themselves.

OAS Permanent Representatives from other Caribbean countries, including Belize, the Bahamas and Barbados all voiced similar sentiments on behalf of their respective governments.

The OAS General Assembly will meet tomorrow to discuss the situation in Honduras.