Zelaya Wants New Constitution

Honduran president Manuel Zelaya is calling for a new constitution in his Central American nation, following the path of his leftist allies in the region.

Zelaya announced late Monday that he wants a national vote by June 24 on whether to convoke an assembly that would write a new constitution adapted to “substantial and significant changes” that Honduras has experienced since its current constitution was adopted in 1982 as the country was emerging from military rule.

He did not give details about what changes a new constitution might include, but similar recent reforms promoted by other Latin American leaders have expanded president powers and eased bans on re-election. Zelaya’s four year term ends in 2010 and current law bans re-election.

Zelaya has forged increasingly close ties with Latin America’s leftist bloc led by Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez. He brought Honduras into the Chavez-founded Bolivarian Alternative trade bloc that also includes Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua.

Chavez, Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa have all sponsored successful attempts to rewrite their countries’ constitutions.

Zelaya’s proposal met immediate opposition. Government human rights ombudsman Ramon Custodio said the plan was “foolishness” and Congressional President Roberto Micheletti said the plan would violate the current constitution.

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