Honduras: Minister defends 'ban' on broadcaster

Rome, 25 Nov. (AKI) - Honduras foreign minister Carlos Lopez Contreras has defended a ban by the de facto government of Roberto Micheletti on a popular broadcaster thought to be sympathetic to deposed president, Manuel Zelaya, ahead of this week's presidential elections. Last week the Honduran TV network Canal 36, also known as Cholusat Sur, claimed its signal had been interrupted by the Micheletti government which since taking power has allegedly tightened controls over the media.

However, Contreras told Adnkronos International (AKI) that the ban on Canal 36 was justified.

"If we look at respect for freedom of speech anywhere in the world, and you actually hear what the channel is saying daily, you would see that in any country in the world, with or without elections, this channel would have been suspended," he said.

He said Canal 36 'belonged' to Zelaya when he was the head of the executive government.

Zelaya was deposed in the bloodless coup that took place in the country's capital, Tegucigalpa, on 28 June and his party colleague and former head of the congress, Roberto Micheletti, was installed as leader.

Zelaya is currently in the Brazilian embassy awaiting the results of Sunday's elections. Contreras rejected Zelaya's allegations that Micheletti was being supported by Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga.

"Zelaya's accusations have absolutely no foundation. The cardinal is a person which has a global reach and he would never put in jeopardy his image for a political situation. I consider Zelaya's claims unfair."

Maradiaga, once considered a possible successor to the late Pope John Paul II and an important figure in the country, has denied Zelaya's claims even though the Honduran Catholic Church supported the decision by congress to dismiss Zelaya in June.

Contreras also told AKI that the most important thing were the presidential candidates standing for election on 29 November and not the opinion of the international community.

"Presidential candidates must have the confidence that the electoral process is transparent, legitimate and that they will not be victims of fraud or imposition," he said.

"When Fidel Castro came to power in 1959 the first thing he said was 'Elections? What for?' while the current Honduran government is saying 'Elections are the solution'. The Honduran people want to vote."

He also said that the views of the secretary-general of the Organization of American States, (OAS) the Chilean Jose Miguel Insulza, were irrelevant.

"Elections are the expression of popular sovereignty of a nation and if the candidates and parties are satisfied, it does not matter what Insulza says in the OAS nor the observers.

"Observers do not give us legitimacy or validity...the world has to accept what this is, a transparent and massive turnout - or what we hope that it will be massive - and that there will be no complaints."

Honduras will host elections on 29 November to choose a president, 128 deputies for the Congress, 20 for the Central American Parliament and 298 mayors.


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