Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Honduran Officials' Visas Revoked by the Obama Administration

Wednesday, July 29, 2009
08:01 Mecca time, 05:01 GMT

Honduran officials' visas revoked

Zelaya insists on returning to Honduras and resuming his role as president

The US has revoked the visas of four Honduran officials, increasing the pressure on the country's interim government to allow Manuel Zelaya, the ousted president, to return to power.

Barack Obama, the US president, agreed on Tuesday to a request from Zelaya to revoke the US visas.

Ian Kelly, a spokesman for the US state department said: "We don't recognise Roberto Micheletti as the president of Honduras, we recognise Manuel Zelaya."

Kelly did not name those affected but said the diplomatic visas of others in the current Honduran government were also being reviewed.

Micheletti became the president of Honduras after Zelaya was ousted in a military-backed coup on June 28.

Since being removed, Zelaya tried twice to return to Honduras, but on both occasions the interim government foiled his attempts.

Senior officials

Connie Mack, a Republican member of the US house of representatives, told Reuters news agency he understood that two of the people who had their US visas revoked were Tomas Arita Valle, the supreme court justice who signed the order for Zelaya's arrest, and Jose Alfredo Saavedra, president of the Honduran congress.

Mack criticised the move as intimidation.

Two others who confirmed they had their visas revoked were Ramon Custodio, the human rights ombudsman, and Adolfo Lionel Sevilla, the defence minister in the interim government.

Micheletti told reporters at the presidential palace on Tuesday that his US visa had not been revoked.

Micheletti's government, which has the backing of the Honduran supreme court and congress, has refused to bend to international condemnation of the coup despite sanctions against it.

Washington has cut $16.5m in US military aid to the Central American country.

The EU has also suspended all budgetary support payments for Honduras.

The Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank have frozen loans in a move the interim government says will cost $200m in 2009.

Zelaya has called for a ban on the coup leaders' bank transactions.

Source: Agencies

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