Moon calls for constitutional order in Honduras

GENEVA: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called Monday on the Organization of American States to work to restore constitutional order in Honduras, where the president has been blocked from returning after a coup.

The OAS bloc must "take a leadership role to find the peaceful solution to that issue whereby the constitutional order can be restored," Ban told reporters in Geneva.

The UN Secretary General said he was "very saddened" by deaths in clashes between the military and supporters of ousted President Manuel Zelaya, and stressed "any unconstitutional change of power is not acceptable.

"When a leader was elected through legal procedures, constitutional procedures, then his authority and mandate as leader of the country must be protected," Ban said.

He urged the coup leaders, headed by interim president Roberto Micheletti, to "protect human lives and the safety and security of all citizens who should be allowed to express their free will without being intimidated, without being threatened."

The OAS voted to suspend Honduras from the bloc late Saturday, following the military coup which ousted Zelaya on June 28.

Zelaya attempted to fly back to Honduras Sunday, a week on from the coup, but the dramatic bid to land in Tegucigalpa failed when the military closed off the airport.

Tens of thousands of Zelaya supporters turned out in support of the toppled leader and violence flared.

Soldiers fired shots and tear gas at rock-throwing protesters and two people were killed, according to police.

After the attempt to return, the president met with OAS chief Jose Miguel Insulza and the presidents of Argentina, Ecuador and Paraguay in neighbouring El Salvador late Sunday, before heading to Nicaragua.

Insulza said at a joint news conference that he was prepared to continue working on resolving the crisis.

In a first sign of possible dialogue, interim leaders in Honduras said they had put forward an offer for dialogue in "good faith" with the OAS, after they previously said they were pulling out of the body ahead of the suspension.