Interim Honduran President defends military action

MIAMI — Speaking via telephone from his home in Tegucigalpa on Monday, interim Honduran President Roberto Micheletti again defended the actions of Honduran military officials in booting President Manuel Zelaya from power.

''We can't allow that this government take us to communism or socialism,'' Micheletti told a group of reporters at a telephone press conference organized by Honduran Unity, a Miami-based group of Honduran activists who support Micheletti.

The press conference took place at Adelitas Cafe, a Honduran restaurant.

Zelaya was spirited out of the presidential palace at 5 a.m. Sunday by the military, which flew him in his pajamas to Costa Rica.

It was the first coup in Central America since military officials forced President Jorge Serrano of Guatemala to step down in 1993 after he tried to dissolve Congress and suspend the constitution.

Zelaya, a leftist ally of Venezuela's Hugo Chávez, found himself increasingly isolated over a nonbinding referendum that was to take place Sunday.

The attorney general and the Supreme Court declared the poll illegal, because it asked voters whether they wanted a constituent assembly to modify the constitution to allow the president to seek reelection. The constitution prohibits changes to some of its clauses, including those that deal with reelection.

''We are abiding by the Constitution of our country and that's why we have national support,'' Micheletti said.

Micheletti, a member of Zelaya's party, had denied that a military coup had taken place to remove Zelaya from office.

''President Zelaya and the military were part of a strict chain of command that dissolved when the president attempted to violate the Constituion,'' said Micheletti.

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