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Briefing: Was Zelaya's ouster a coup?

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Jennifer McCoy, director of the Americas Program at the Atlanta-based Carter Center, explains: "The reason why the international community considers it a coup is that the military captured [Zelaya] and removed him from the country without due process."

What's the argument that it was not a coup?

The interim government, led by Roberto Micheletti, claims that a "coup" never occurred in Honduras because the military was operating under court order, never assumed power, and had the support of nearly all institutions in Honduras.

Octavio Sanchez, a lawyer and constitutional expert in Honduras who agrees with Mr. Micheletti, explains the legal reasoning. Zelaya was pushing forward with an attempt to hold a nonbinding vote to consider a constituent assembly, which the Supreme Court declared illegal. Article 239 of the Constitution is the key. It prohibits presidents from running for reelection, and it states that whoever does so, or proposes to do so, must immediately vacate the office.

Zelaya published his intentions to hold a national poll on convening a constituent assembly in the official gazette days before his ouster. The Honduran courts and other sectors viewed this as a way to open the door to scrapping term limits for presidents, says Mr. Sanchez. Zelaya has denied this. The Supreme Court issued an order for the military to arrest him for breaking court orders requiring him to act within the constitutional framework.

Under Article 306 of the Constitution, the courts have a right to send law enforcement to execute an arrest warrant. But under Article 102 of the Constitution, no Honduran citizen can be exiled.

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