|09TEGUCIGALPA504||2009-06-28 14:58:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Tegucigalpa|
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C O N F I D E N T I A L TEGUCIGALPA 000504
1. (C) At approximately 02:30 local time (04:30 Washington)
Honduran military forces entered the Presidential Palace and
arrested President Manuel "Mel" Zelaya. Embassy sources
report Zelaya was taken to the Air Force Base adjacent to
Toncontin International Aiport and then flown by military
aircraft to Costa Rica, where he was said to be as of
07:30.It has been reported that Zelaya has signed a letter of
2. (C) Military commanders told DATT they had acted on
instructions from the National Congress and the Supreme Court
to prevent Zelaya from carrying out a poll, scheduled to take
place today, on whether there should be a "fourth urn"at the
November general elections to seek voter approval to convene
a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution. The
courts, the attorney general and the solicitor general had
all declared the poll illegal.
3. (C) Both the Attorney General and the individual members
of the Congress we spoke to say they had only ordered the
confiscation of the polling materials and had not asked for
Zelaya,s arrest. Juan Orlando Gutierrez added, however, that
Zelaya could be arrested for having committed several
"flagrant" acts up to 24 hours after the act. When asked if
the National Police (HNP) were in solidarity with the
military forces, Minister of Security Jorge Rodas told Emboff
the HNP "are in support of the Constitution and rule of law."
4. (C) As of 09:00 streets are calm in Tegucigalpa, although
there is an unusually large police presence. The military is
confiscating poll materials throughout the country, according
to the director of police. Television and radio broadcasts
have been suspended, and there are sporadic power outages.
Television stations had reported the arrest before going off
the air. The government-controled Channel 8 urged Zelaya
supporters to congregate in the Central Park and in front of
the Presidential Palace to oppose the military's action.
5. (C) Post held an EAC. There are no/no reports of violence.
Post is preparing a warden message to American Citizens and
instructing all Embassy personnel to remain at home. We are
contacting airlines to determine status of departing and
incoming international flights.
6. (C) Ambassador spoke to President of Congress Roberto
Micheletti, who said Zelaya,s publication of the poll in the
official Gazette was a violation of law, and that Zelaya
intended to convene a constituent assembly immediately after
the poll, so Congress acted to preempt him. The Ambassador
told Micheletti that, while we realized that the poll had
been ruled illegal by the courts, and that the publication in
the Gazette may have defied the law, sending in the military
to arrest Zelaya was not appropriate or legal. Embassy
continues all parties to seek a democratic solution to the
current crisis while making clear that the military's action
in this case was in our view inappropriate.