Page last updated at 22:23 GMT, Tuesday, 30 June 2009 23:23 UK

UN backs Honduras leader's return

President Manuel Zelaya: 'Congress does not appoint a president... the people do'

The United Nations General Assembly has approved a resolution calling for the reinstatement of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.

Mr Zelaya's expulsion by the army on Sunday has been criticised in Europe, Washington and Latin America as a coup.

He says he will return to Honduras on Thursday, accompanied by the head of the Organization of American States.

Mr Zelaya, who also addressed the UN, thanked the assembly for what he called its "historic" resolution.

He also pledged not to seek another term in office once he has returned to Honduras, and said he would not accept a second term if he was asked to serve again.

The resolution calls "firmly and categorically on all states to recognise no government other than that" of Mr Zelaya.

It was co-sponsored by a group of Latin American and Caribbean nations and was supported by the United States.

We have the warrants ready so that he stays in jail in Honduras and is judged according to the country's laws
Enrique Ortez
Caretaker foreign minister

In Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, newly-installed President Roberto Micheletti defended the ousting of Mr Zelaya, whom he accused of a "Chavismo" style of socialism based on that of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez.

In an interview with Reuters news agency he said Honduras was "more of a democracy today than it was three days ago".

And Enrique Ortez, Honduras' new foreign minister, said Mr Zelaya faced immediate arrest if he returned, on charges of violating the country's constitution as well as links to drug trafficking and organised crime.

"As soon as he enters he will be captured. We have the warrants ready so that he stays in jail in Honduras and is judged according to the country's laws," Mr Ortez told CNN's Spanish-language service.

Anti-Zelaya protest

In recent days pro-Zelaya supporters have clashed with security forces in Tegucigalpa, but on Tuesday thousands of opponents of the deposed president demonstrated in the city centre.

Waving the national flag, they said he had been legally forced from office.

Mr Zelaya, 57, was ousted amid stiff opposition to his plans to amend the constitution from the courts, military, Congress and even some members of his own party.

He had wanted to hold a non-binding referendum on the proposal, which critics say could have paved the way for Mr Zelaya - elected in 2006 and restricted to only one term - to run for re-election.

Population: 7.2 million
One of poorest countries in Latin America
GNI per capita: US$1,600
Main exports: Coffee, bananas

Polls had been due to open on Sunday, but instead troops stormed the presidential palace at dawn, bundled the president to an airbase and flew him to Costa Rica.

The BBC's Stephen Gibbs, in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, says Mr Zelaya, whose popularity in Honduras had been plummeting in recent months, has garnered impressive support since his exile.

Our correspondent notes that even US President Barack Obama and his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez have found themselves in rare agreement over the issue - with both declaring that his expulsion was illegal.

A number of countries in the region have withdrawn ambassadors from Honduras.

Spain, the former colonial ruler of Honduras, has called on other EU countries to withdraw their ambassadors - Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said member states had "not ruled out" the option.

Meanwhile, World Bank president Robert Zoellick said the institution had "put a pause" on its lending to Honduras.

Mr Zoellick said the bank was "working closely with the OAS and looking to the OAS to deal with its handling of the crisis under its democratic charter".

The authorities in Honduras have been restricting broadcasts by media outlets perceived to be pro-Zelaya, our correspondent adds.

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