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Honduras interim government to reinstate suspended constitutional rights

[JURIST] The head of the Honduran interim government Roberto Micheletti said Monday that he may lift restrictions on constitutional rights imposed Sunday by the end of the week. The de facto government passed an executive decree [text, in Spanish] late on Sunday night suspending five articles in the Honduran Constitution [text] for 45 days: personal freedom (Art. 69), freedom of expression of thought (Art. 72), freedom of association (Art. 78), freedom to circulate (Art. 81), and the requirement of written arrest warrant (Art. 84). The decree authorized the National Police to take any necessary measures to maintain peace and order in the country as protesters rally in support of deposed president Manuel Zelaya [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], ordering all the armed forces and all state agencies to support police operations. The decree also authorized the National Telecommunications Commission [official website, in Spanish] to suspend any media outlet whose actions are considered to be detrimental to peace and public order. In the early hours of Monday morning, the de facto government closed Radio Globo [media website, in Spanish] and television Channel 36, media outlets that allegedly support the ousted president. Zelaya has called for his supporters to disregard the decree characterizing its provisions as unlawful. The National Organization Against the Coup d'Etat (FNCGE) [advocacy website, in Spanish] called for supporters to disregard the decree and continue efforts to reinstate Zelaya by citing Article 3 in the Honduran Constitution that calls for disobedience to a usurper government and insurrection in defense of the constitutional order. Also on Monday, the Organization of American States (OAS) decried [press release] the decision of the Honduran government to deny entrance on Sunday to an OAS delegation purporting to support negotiations. Honduras has refused to allow the ambassadors of Spain, Mexico, Argentina, and Venezuela to return to the country in retaliation for unilaterally breaking off relations previously.

Zelaya has taken refuge at the Brazilian Embassy [official website, in Spanish] since returning to Honduras last week, despite calls [JURIST report] from Micheletti to hand him over under an arrest warrant [text and materials, PPT, in Spanish] issued by the Honduran Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish] in June. On Saturday, the Honduran interim government gave the Brazilian government 10 days to define Zelaya's status in the embassy or face further consequences, meaning that Honduras is giving Brazil 10 days to close [El Faro report, in Spanish] the affairs of their embassy before Honduras considers the facilities simply a private office. Zelaya was ousted [JURIST report] on June 28 following a judicial order [press release, in Spanish] asserting that he had broken Honduran law by attempting to conduct a controversial referendum on constitutional reform [JURIST report] contrary to a Honduran Supreme Court ruling.

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