Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said Honduras’ interim government could try to provoke a border military incident “to distract attention” from international efforts to restore ousted president Manuel Zelaya.
Ortega cited no evidence in making the claims, which come as Honduras’ coup-installed leader dampened hopes for a negotiated solution to the country’s crisis, capping days of mixed signals by saying firmly that there’s no way the ousted president could return to power.
“There is a danger that, to try to distract attention from the internal conflict they themselves created, they might organize a group of people with military training to attack a Honduran army position, for that to serve as a pretext for a retaliation against Nicaragua,” Ortega said in a speech in Managua, the Nicaraguan capital.
Ortega, who has been hosting Zelaya and a few hundred of his supporters camped out near the Honduran border, did not offer details on when such a provocation might occur.
“But they shouldn’t think they would have a cakewalk in Nicaragua,” Ortega said.
The two countries’ border was the scene of much of the fighting in the 1980s Contra war, in which US-backed rebels fought Ortega’s Sandinista government.
“We are not talking about an army that doesn’t have a history of aggression against Nicaragua,” Ortega said.
Ortega said his country “is preparing for war because we want peace.”
Marking a tougher stance, riot police fired tear gas and arrested supporters of Zelaya who blocked a main artery leading into the Honduran capital on Friday.
Interim president Roberto Micheletti said that his government would no longer tolerate street blockades that regularly snarl traffic in Tegucigalpa and other cities.
Micheletti’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement it “reserves the right” to cancel visas for US diplomatic personnel in Honduras, in retaliation for Washington’s decision this week to revoke the diplomatic visas of four Honduran officials. However the government did not take any immediate steps against US diplomats.
Zelaya’s return has been a key demand of crisis mediator and Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, who also has proposed amnesty for the coup plotters and other measures as part of a compromise deal.
But on Friday, a judge in Honduras issued yet another set of arrest warrants against Zelaya and three other former officials for alleged falsification of public records, fraud and abuse of authority. The charges are related to the alleged misappropriation of US$2 million in government funds to pay for ads by Zelaya’s administration in January.
The interim government previously announced Zelaya faces charges of treason, usurping the powers of other branches of government, abuse of authority and trying to undermine Honduras’ system of government.
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