Heather Berkman: Zelaya pushed

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Manuel Zelaya has taken a few unexpected turns to the left during his tenure as President of Honduras, deviating from its political norms. This time, it looks like he may have gone too far.

His recent first steps towards a referendum on constitutional change sparked fears he wanted to remove term limits and run for re-election at the end of his term in January but, ultimately, it doesn't seem that was what forced him out. Other Honduran politicians, including the front-runners for November's presidential election, remained vague on the question and probably supported it.

But Mr Zelaya ignored decisions made last week by the Supreme Court, which declared his planned plebiscite unconstitutional, and by Congress, which outlawed referendums within 180 days of national elections. By simply shrugging off those rulings, Mr Zelaya can be blamed for staging a coup that, in turn, provoked a counter-coup. Essentially, he played chicken with the other branches of government, and now it looks as though he has lost.

In the end, he was no match for the rest of the government, the military and the political and business elite. Despite pressure from regional leaders and the US, a return looks nearly impossible, and his tenure as a key player in Honduras is probably finished.

Heather Berkman is a Latin America associate at the global political risk consultancy Eurasia Group