November 26, 2009 / 4:13 AM / 10 years ago

Honduras Supreme Court backs Zelaya ouster

Supporters of Honduras' ousted President Manuel Zelaya protest against the upcoming election, outside the National Congress in Tegucigalpa November 25, 2009. Honduran lawmakers will wait until after a Nov. 29 presidential election to decide whether to reinstate ousted President Manuel Zelaya, delaying a vote central to a U.S.-led deal to end months of political turmoil. The posters read, "No to coup elections" (L) and "Democracy with a restitution of Mel Zelaya" (R). REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Honduras’ Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that ousted President Manuel Zelaya cannot legally return to office, dimming the possibility of his reinstatement after a June coup, court sources said.

The Court did not release the full text of its non-binding ruling, but a court source and a lawyer close to the proceedings said it closely follows earlier decisions upholding Zelaya’s ouster after he moved to change the constitution.

On June 28, soldiers removed Zelaya from office and sent him into exile on orders from the Supreme Court. The Congress swore in Roberto Micheletti to head the new government, but the world denounced the move and refused to recognize the interim government.

The Court’s opinion will be passed to lawmakers as part of a U.S.-backed deal between both sides that calls on Congress to decide whether or not Zelaya can be reinstated.

The opinion may sway Congress’ December 2 vote against Zelaya, who snuck back into the country in September and is camped out inside the Brazilian embassy. Honduran soldiers have surrounded the embassy.

Zelaya pulled out of the U.S.-brokered deal earlier this month and says he will refuse to return to power.

Honduras will hold a presidential election on Sunday that was scheduled long before the coup. Neither Zelaya nor Micheletti is running and the United States sees the vote as a possible solution to the stalemate.

Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Editing by Paul Simao

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