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Zelaya calls for new int'l laws against coups, slams U.S.
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13:38, August 06, 2009

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Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya on Wednesday called for new international laws specifically applying to coups and slammed what he called "lukewarm" U.S. pressure against the interim Honduran government during a two-day visit to Mexico.

"There is no specific measure in international laws that recognizes a coup as a crime nor that designates the punishment that follows a coup," Zelaya said in a speech to Mexico's upper legislative house, the Senate. "The coup in Honduras has exposed all of this."

He said that coups should be treated as a crime against humanity because they violate citizens' right to vote.

Zelaya also told Mexico's Senate that the United States had not done enough to bring down the post-coup regime.

Zelaya's remarks came after media published a letter from the U.S. State Department that said the U.S. policy on Honduras' political crisis was not based on supporting any particular individual, indicating softening support for Zelaya.

"We have rejected calls for crippling economic sanctions and made clear that all states should seek to facilitate a solution without calls for violence and with respect for the principle of nonintervention," Richard Verma, U.S. assistant secretary for legislative affairs, said in the letter that was dated Tuesday.

In his speech, Zelaya said the United States had been "lukewarm in acting," and urged Mexico's President Felipe Calderon to raise the topic this weekend with U.S. President Barack Obama who will attend the Security and Prosperity Partnership Summit in northern Mexican city Guadalajara.

"The U.S. is also at risk if violence increases in the region," Zelaya added. The United States is Honduras' biggest trading partner and the largest single aid donor.

Zelaya also appeared to be more confident of returning to serve out his term in Honduras, which ends next January, and said Honduras' business people had visited him in Nicaragua to offer him support.

Zelaya has a base in Nicaragua close to the Honduras border, where he had tried in vain to enter his own country.

In Honduras, Romeo Vasquez, head of Honduras' armed forces, told media on Wednesday that the military would respect whatever solution reached under the mediation of Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias.

Arias has hosted mediation between Zelaya and interim government leader Roberto Micheletti. He has proposed a seven-point solution which includes Zelaya's return as president and an amnesty for coup leaders.

However, Micheletti has repeatedly said Zelaya could not return to his country as president, but only to stand trial for treason.

Domestic pressure increased as Honduran media reported on Wednesday that pro-Zelaya students protested and clashed with police near a university in the capital city of Tegucigalpa.

It was also reported that staff at 28 hospitals, including 15,000 nurses, declared an indefinite strike, joining public school teachers who have been off their jobs for weeks.

Zelaya said the coup plotters had underestimated opposition both at home and abroad and from all sides of the political spectrum.

Mexico's President Calderon made clear his opposition to the de facto government at a welcoming ceremony for Zelaya on Tuesday.

"From the day of the despicable coup, we have shown solidarity with Honduras and supported the reinstatement of Zelaya as the country's president," Calderon said.

Zelaya, who arrived in Mexico City on Monday night, will travel to Brazil on Wednesday at the invitation of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, continuing his "diplomatic crusade" in Latin America to seek support.

Source: Xinhua

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