World News

U.S. blasts ousted Honduran for "foolish" return

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States blasted ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya for his “irresponsible and foolish” return from exile before a settlement was reached in the Central American country’s political crisis.

At an emergency meeting of the Organization of American States to discuss the Honduran face-off, Lewis Anselem, the U.S. ambassador to the OAS, also criticized Honduras’ de facto government for its “deplorable” action in barring entry of an OAS mission and declaring a state of siege on Sunday.

Anselem also criticized Zelaya for fueling violence by slipping back into Honduras last week and holing up in the Brazilian Embassy, from where he has called on his supporters to take to the streets.

“The return of Zelaya absent an agreement is irresponsible and foolish ... He should cease and desist from making wild allegations and from acting as though he were starring in an old movie,” Anselm said.

Anselem urged the de facto government to handle security with “restraint and caution” and called on Zelaya to “exercise leadership” and urge his supporters to express their views peacefully.

He said the United States had urged Zelaya on several occasions not to return to Honduras before a political settlement was achieved because of the potential for unrest.

“Having chosen, with outside help, to return on his own terms, President Zelaya and those who have facilitated his return, bear particular responsibility for the actions of his supporters,” the U.S. official said.

Anselem said the U.S. government will continue to urge both sides to quickly reach agreement under the San Jose accord proposed by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, which calls for Zelaya to return to office to finish his term ending in January.

While President Barack Obama has condemned the coup that toppled Zelaya and has cut off some aid to Honduras, conservatives criticize him for helping an ally of Venezuela’s leftist President Hugo Chavez.

Zelaya was overthrown in a military coup on June 28. The de facto civilian government has resisted international pressure to allow the leftist president’s reinstatement and on Sunday gave Brazil a 10-day ultimatum to decided what too with Zelaya, threatening to close the embassy.

Reporting by Deborah Charles; Writing by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Bill Trott