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President Zelaya
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Hunduran troops
Photo: AFP
US says had no role in Honduran coup
Washington rejects claims it backed plans to oust Honduran President Zelaya, who has fled to Costa Rica after being arrested 'in his pajamas' by military troops earlier today

The United States on Sunday denied any involvement in the military coup d'etat against Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, after he called on Washington to clarify if it had a role in the action.

 

"There was no US involvement in this action against President Zelaya," a White House official said.

 

Zelaya says soldiers rousted him out of bed, beat his body guards and arrested him in his pajamas in what he criticized as "a coup" and "a kidnapping."

 

Zelaya told a local television station Sunday that he is at the airport in San Jose, capital of Costa Rica. He said he would not recognize any attempt to name a replacement for him following his detention earlier Sunday.

 

Zelaya says he will be meeting with diplomats and stressed he wanted to serve out his term, which ends in early 2010. He called for talks. Zelaya was detained by army troops early Sunday, shortly before he was to have held a controversial referendum on constitutional reform opposed by most of the rest of the Honduran government.

 

Zelaya told Spain's El Pais that a planned attempt to wrest power him was thwarted after the United States declined to back the move.

 

"Everything was in place for the coup and if the US embassy had approved it, it would have happened. But they did not ... I'm only still here in office thanks to the United States," he said in the newspaper interview published on Sunday.

 

"Last (Friday) morning, at around 1 or 2 am, Congress was passing a decree to incapacitate me and the armed forces were mobilized. But phone calls were made – I can't say by who or from where - but these calls stopped the coup," he said.

 

Zelaya, an ally of Venezuela's socialist President Hugo Chavez, is holding an unofficial vote on Sunday to gauge public support for lifting constitutional limits on presidential terms despite objections by courts and the military.

 

Sunday's vote will hold no legal weight after a court ruled it invalid.

 

US President Barack Obama issued a call for all sides in Honduras to respect democracy and the rule of law following the arrest. Obama said any disputes must be settled peacefully through negotiations that are free from outside interference.

 

White House officials say Obama spoke with his national security adviser, James Jones, about the situation on Sunday morning. Aides from several agencies are monitoring the situation and providing
updates to Obama, Jones and Jones' deputy.

 

The European Union also condemned what it called a "coup d'etat" against Zelaya.

 

"This is an unacceptable violation of constitutional order in Honduras," Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout, from the EU presidency, told reporters after an EU meeting on the Greek island of Corfu.

He termed the action "a coup d'etat".

 

"The EU calls for the urgent release of President Zelaya and a swift return to the constitutional normality," Kohout said.

 

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