Zelaya's Removal: Necessary and Proper
By Robert Romano
Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met privately with former president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya. Afterward, she announced that the crisis in that nation would now be mediated by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, saying, “We hope at the end of this mediation there will be a return of democratic constitutional order that is agreed to by all concerned.”
It's time to take off the gloves: Mrs. Clinton is lying. “[D]emocratic constitutional order” has in fact already been returned to Honduras, no thanks to her boss, Barack Obama. And then only because Manuel Zelaya was impeached and removed from office by the Honduran Congress, and his attempt at rewriting the nation's Constitution halted by the Supreme Court.
Zelaya's removal was in fact the only legal outcome that could occur under law. And it was also necessary in order to maintain the constitutional administration of government in Honduras. What happened?
As ALG News has previously reported, Zelaya was attempting to convene a constitutional convention that would have enabled him to rewrite portions of the Constitution that defined term limits for the office of President.
Zelaya was repeatedly warned—by his own constitutional experts, the Public Prosecutor General, the Attorney General, the presiding judge of the Administrative Law Court, the Office of the State Attorney, the Administrative Law Tribunal, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the National Congress, and the National Commissioner for Human Rights—that his proposed referendum was unconstitutional, but he knowingly proceeded anyway with his unlawful plans.
In Honduras, the President is only allotted one term of office. And, it is unconstitutional for any public servant to even propose extending that term. While that may appear harsh, in Honduras the people have little use for would-be kings, or populist demagogues.
According to Article 239 of the Honduran Constitution: “No citizen who has already served as head of the Executive Branch can be President or Vice-President. Whoever violates this law or proposes its reform, as well as those that support such violation directly or indirectly, will immediately cease in their functions and will be unable to hold any public office for a period of 10 years.”
And yet that is exactly what Zelaya attempted to do, proposing a constitutional referendum that would have enabled him to extend his term of office. The Supreme Court ruled that the referendum was unconstitutional, and Zelaya was impeached and removed from office for violating Article 239.
According to a legal backgrounder obtained by ALG News, “Because the Vice‐president had resigned in 2007, the Constitution of the Republic states that it is the President of Congress that must assume the office of President of the Republic. Consequently Roberto Micheletti Baín, then the President of Congress, was sworn in as President of the Republic. Thereafter, and because of the vacancy of the office of President of the National Congress, José Alfredo Saavedra was also sworn in as President of Congress at the same session.”
Therefore, Zelaya was properly removed from office, and Micheletti Baín is the rightful President of Honduras.
And according to former Honduran Ambassador to the U.S., Jorge Hernandez-Alcerro, writing for the Washington Post, the U.S. knows it: "The U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa is fully aware that Mr. Zelaya has violated Honduras's constitution, laws and court rulings. Mr. Zelaya and small segments of the population tried to write a new constitution, change the democratic system and seek his reelection, which is prohibited by the constitution."
So, despite any of the White House's claims that Zelaya's ouster was “not legal,” the real story is that of Barack Obama attempting to contravene the lawful affairs of the Honduran Supreme Court, Congress, and the military that enforced the court's ruling to bring Zelaya into custody on June 28th.
In truth, there is nothing for Mr. Arias to mediate at all, except reading Article 239 of the Honduran Constitution very slowly aloud to Zelaya and asking, “Got it?”
Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of ALG News Bureau.