The president of Honduras has sought political exile in Costa Rica after being forced out of office by the Honduran army.
Manuel Zelaya says his bodguards initially fought off soldiers, but he was arrested and then flown out of the country after the presidential palace was surrounded. He inisists he is still president. Last week he sacked the head of the army because he refused to help Zelaya organise a referendum this Sunday that had been due to test public opinion on allowing presidents to stand for office more than once. He has called on Hondurans to “peacefully protest against the usurper government and defend democracy”. He has broadcast this message from Costa Rica: “This morning my residence was invaded by armed soldiers who kidapped me,” he said on TV. He called on his allies, including Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, to seek dialogue with the plotters, and asked the US government to demand the restitution of Honduras’s legitimate government. Zelaya is a leftist president in a nation emerging from years of military then authoritarian right-wing rule. He has been nowhere near as confrontational as near-neighbour Chavez, but does not have his military background nor power base. Last week his supporters wrested ballot boxes being held by the army so that today’s referendum could take place, but even his own party, along with the Supreme Court and military has called on electors to boycott the poll.