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US suspends $30 mn aid to Honduras


Washington : The US government announced Thursday that over $30 million aid to Honduras has been suspended in the wake of President Mel Zelaya’s June 28 ouster.

Washington said that if the de facto regime in Tegucigalpa remains intransigent on the question of Zelaya’s reinstatement, the US would not recognise the winner of the Nov 29 presidential election in the Central American country.

The State Department outlined its tougher stance shortly after Zelaya met in Washington with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“Today’s action sends a clear message to the de facto regime that the status quo is unacceptable and that their strategy to try to run out the clock on President Zelaya’s term of office is unacceptable,” Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley told reporters.

“There’s a sense that the de facto regime was thinking if we can just get to an election that this will absolve them of all their sins,” he said. “That is not the case.”

In a statement issued earlier Thursday, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said that as things now stand, the US government “would not be able to support the outcome of the scheduled elections” in Honduras.

Both Crowley and Kelly said the only way out for Roberto Micheletti’s de facto government lay in accepting the San Jose Accord, the proposal put forward by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias in his role as mediator.

The accord calls for Zelaya to return and serve out his term, which ends in January 2010, and for a political amnesty that would protect both the coup plotters and the ousted head of state, who stands accused of various offences by the de facto regime.

While Zelaya has accepted the plan, Micheletti flatly rejects the reinstatement of the elected head of state.

The State Department said that Honduras, the third-poorest nation in the hemisphere, would continue to receive humanitarian aid, but through channels other than the government in Tegucigalpa.

Despite the end of government-to-government aid, the State Department has yet to formally declare Zelaya’s ouster a coup.

Zelaya expressed satisfaction for the moves announced Thursday.

The Micheletti regime finds itself “ever more alone”, Zelaya told a press conference in Washington after his meeting with Clinton.

Micheletti says Zelaya’s ouster was not a coup, insisting that the soldiers who dragged him from the presidential palace June 28 were simply enforcing a Supreme Court ban on the president’s planned non-binding plebiscite on the idea of revising the constitution.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said last month that the Micheletti government has used excessive force and arbitrary arrests to prevent demonstrations by opponents of the coup.