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Honduran congress dismisses Supreme Court justices

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 12, 2012 at 5:00 pm •  Published: December 12, 2012

Former President Manuel Zelaya was whisked out of the country at gunpoint in his pajamas in June 2009 after he ignored the same Supreme Court and tried to hold a referendum on his plan to revise the constitution, promising the poor they would get a voice in shaping the future of the country.

Lobo over the weekend accused the same Honduran business leaders behind Zelaya's ouster of colluding with the justices to undercut his power, hinting that they might even attempt another coup.

Honduras' federal judges have long been closely tied with the business elite. In October, the Supreme Court shot down Lobo's plan to build private cities as a means of attracting investment and economic development.

Last week, four of five members of the constitutional court, the same who were dismissed Wednesday, declared unconstitutional his police cleanup plan. The full Supreme Court was scheduled to issue a ruling this week, but has yet to do so in the current political turmoil.

Drug trafficking and violence have spiked in Honduras since Zelaya's ouster in Honduras, where two-thirds of the 8.2 million people live in poverty. With a homicide rate of 91 per 100,000 residents, it is often called the most violent country in the world.

The 2009 coup split created a headache for the United States, which cut off aid to Honduras as punishment, but then was criticized for recognizing Lobo's government after he was elected in a regularly scheduled vote later that year.

Lobo took office in January 2010 and is limited to a single term, which ends next year. Within six months, Lobo was accusing unnamed opponents of plotting a second coup to oust him from power.

The U.S. State Department said Wednesday it is monitoring the situation and is urging all parties involved to "respect democratic norms."

"The United States is deeply interested in the success of democracy in Honduras and the strengthening and independence of its institutions," State Department press adviser William Ostick said. "We look to the Honduran people to resolve this matter peacefully and democratically."